Swiss drug maker Roche sees Q1 sales rise

GENEVA (AP) -- Swiss drug maker Roche Holding AG has posted a 6 percent increase in group sales in the first quarter compared to the same period last year.

The Basel, Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company reported Thursday group sales rose to 11.56 billion Swiss francs ($12.38 billion), up from 11.03 billion francs in the first quarter of 2012.

Roche chief executive Severin Schwan credited what he called a strong start in 2013 to the launch of two new cancer drugs, Kadcyla in the United States and Perjeta in Europe. The company also said that there was strong demand for its ovarian cancer drug Avastin in Europe.

Roche, which reports its earnings only every six months, said group sales for 2013 are expected to grow in line with last year, which was 4 percent growth.