Roche CFO flags need to bolster late-stage drug development

By Ludwig Burger

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Swiss drugmaker Roche needs to have better drug development projects in advanced stages to bolster its battered stock market value, its finance chief said on Thursday.

“The point is really the setbacks we had last year in the late-stage pipeline… We have to now fill up the pipeline again and prove ourselves that we really have a strong late-stage pipeline,” CFO Alan Hippe told a press conference.

“Once that happens I’m not concerned about the share price.”

He said some progress had been made already and that Roche’s share price had also suffered because strong COVID-related demand for tests and treatments has subsided.

The stock is down about 18% over the last 12 months, compared with a drop of just 1.7% in the STOXX Europe 600 Health Care index.

Roche’s drug development record was previously among the best in the industry.

CEO Thomas Schinecker, at the helm since March, is keen to restore it, and earlier said hundreds of potential purchases of companies or of development rights to drugs were under consideration. However, financial discipline was paramount.In November 2022, a Roche drug candidate did not help against Alzheimer’s disease as hoped, and earlier that year, lung cancer immunotherapy hopeful tiragolumab fell through in trials, weighing on the company’s shares.

The Wall Street Journal reported this month that Roche is in talks to acquire an experimental drug to treat inflammatory bowel diseases from Biotech firm Roivant in a deal that could be valued at more than $7 billion. Roche declined to comment.

This week, the Swiss group agreed to pay $310 million upfront to Alnylam for the co-development rights in a drug candidate to treat high blood pressure that is difficult to control.

Alnylam stands to received more unspecified payments contingent on the drug’s development and market success.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger, Editing by Rachel More and Friederike Heine; editing by John Stonestreet)

Leave a Comment