Roche Holding Earnings Call Nuggets: DME with Lucentis, Perjeta Launch

On Tuesday, Roche Holding (RHHBY) reported its third quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Take a look.

DME with Lucentis

Timothy Anderson – Sanford C. Bernstein: A few questions. On Lucentis, do you think the DME indication might lead to overall positive sales growth for the franchise in 2013 or will that indication likely only make sales growth less negative and then on Pegasys, some of the negative growth in the quarter, year-on-year due to warehousing for the next round of therapies that might get approved in a couple of years, it seems surprising if that decline in Q3 with Pegasys as related just to exhausting the current warehouse of patients. Then lastly on Rituxan, last quarter you said that generic versions of Rituxan would likely be delayed until 2015 in Europe, that seem to be corroborated by news from Teva a few weeks ago. Can you please provide us with more detail on why there seems to be a delay with biosimilar programs and does that make you feel any less threatened that maybe monoclonal antibodies in particular have a long uncertain regulatory road ahead of them?

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Daniel O’Day – COO, Pharmaceuticals: This is Dan. Let me just pick up on your DME question with Lucentis first. I think it’s the latter of your two comments that we expect DME to help retard the declines and the penetration of Eylea and AMD but we don’t expect it to necessarily contribute to overall growth in the franchise. Again, as I mentioned you look at the decline with Eylea since it’s been launched and again we expect the JCO for Eylea to come in January of next year, so we do expect to have continued penetration in AMD with Eylea. DME is good news, I think it will help reduce the decline but not completely to convert it in the other direction. In terms of Pegasys, to our knowledge we don’t see any additional warehousing going on, may be with the exception of Brazil, where we talked about the tender being delayed until next year but beyond that I think we don’t see signs in the marketplace for yet additional warehousing. Now there is a bit in Europe, we have some puts and takes as I mentioned, Germany and France and other countries where the new orals are approved, there may be some smaller countries in Europe where there’s some warehousing, but the major warehousing I think that we see left in the world is in Brazil. Then finally relative to the generics on Rituxan, I would just say we are cautiously – we are cautiously optimistic about that. We don’t want to in any way forecast exactly what’s going to happen with the generic manufacturers out there but we do see some struggles in them being able to bring their products to market place on their stated time lines. But as far as we are concerned we continue to see them entering the market place within a reasonable timeframe and that’s why we want to continue to differentiate our pipeline program. Similarly that we have done with Herceptin, with now also our leukemia franchise, which is why I wanted to point out also the data coming up at ASH although early in some of the antidrug conjugants where we remain committed to trying to differentiate and reset the bar in hematology (indiscernible) as well because we know they will come.

Perjeta Launch

Tim Race – Deutsche Bank: Just a few questions if I may. First of all Perjeta, obviously had a very, very impressive launch with 31% penetration. Could you just talk around that in terms of which patients are specifically being chosen for initial usage by doctors of this product and just in terms of any activities you are doing to encourage usage, are all these patients paying the full price? Then just on to – perhaps just on Brazil; could you just confirm – I mean we saw pretty big turnaround of minus 3% from 22% in the first half. Is that entirely down to Pegasys or do you have a factor that played there? Then maybe lastly just on Diabetes Care, it doesn’t really sit with all the other Diagnostics businesses in some people’s views. There are a lot of competitors that find (indiscernible), why is this still a business that Roche is still interested in and how you considered divesting it or when should we actually expect a sustainable performance from the division?

Daniel O’Day – COO, Pharmaceuticals: Let me try the Perjeta question first. The question was around what patients and also about price. So, what’s patient’s first-line setting for sure Perjeta so far to-date predominantly and in docetaxel combination therapy, where we have about 85% of our use within that segment of the first-line patient. I mean still early days for Perjeta, right. So, I think we’ll be able to update you a bit more on the next quarterly call in terms of how we progress. In terms of the uptake, the uptake is at full price in the United States. So, that’s where we’re at from that perspective. Brazil, I know, it may look a bit on to have this type of variation, but when you really have these tender movements, you really get it, we don’t have any underlying concerns about the business in Brazil in terms of volume or other products. It really is related to the tender and predominantly the tender on Pegasys. So, we don’t see any other moves afoot there that would have us look at that country differently and diabetes?

Dr. Severin Schwan – CEO: On the Diabetes Care side, this is Severin speaking. As you all know diabetes is a growing disease area and in spite of the market pressure we are facing in the long-term, there is an enormous potential and we can contribute also from the diagnostic side to that disease. Already, today almost 300 people suffer from diabetes and the prevalence is largely increasing in particular in the emerging market. So, we believe in the value of this business in the long-term. Having said this, we face a very tough environment and we have to adjust and we have to react accordingly and that’s exactly what we do.