Virus tests save Roche as drug sales slide

Virus tests are proving to be a saving grace for Roche.

The Swiss pharmaceuticals giant saw drug sales slide in the first quarter.

They were down 9% over the period.

Revenues were hit as the global health crisis limited visits to hospitals and health centers.

But it was a different story on virus testing.

Sales at the firm's diagnostics division leapt by 55%.

That almost offset the slump in shipments of drugs.

Overall, Roche first-quarter sales dipped 1% to 14.9 billion swiss francs - or about 16.3 billion dollars.

Last year Chief Executive Severin Schwan was confident that drug sales would soon normalise.

But now he says the lingering crisis continues to have a negative impact.

Even so, the company still expects current-year sales growth in the low- to mid-single-digit range.

Core earnings are seen rising at a similar rate.

Roche shares rose over 1.5% in early trade on Wednesday (April 21).

Video Transcript

- Virus tests are proving to be a saving grace for Roche. The Swiss pharmaceuticals giant saw drug sales slide in the first quarter. They were down 9% over the period. Revenues were hit as the global health crisis limited visits to hospitals and health centers.

- [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

- But it was a different story on virus testing. Sales at the firm's diagnostics division leapt by 55%. That almost offset the slump in shipments of drugs.

Overall, Roche first-quarter sales dipped 1% to 14.9 billion Swiss francs-- or about $16.3 billion.

Last year, Chief Executive Severin Schwan was confident that drug sales would soon normalize, but now he says the lingering crisis continues to have a negative impact.

Even so, the company still expects current-year sales growth in the low-to mid-single-digit range.

Core earnings are seen rising at a similar rate.

Roche shares rose over 1.5% in early trade on Wednesday.