(Bloomberg) -- Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG’s profit rose 7 percent in the first half, spurred by demand for medicines that treat cancers of the breast, blood and bowel.

Roche’s core earnings, which exclude some items, climbed to 7.74 Swiss francs ($7.86) per share from 7.22 francs a year earlier, the Basel, Switzerland-based company said in a statement Thursday. That exceeded the 7.65-franc estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

The world’s biggest maker of cancer drugs is breathing new life into some of its aging tumor fighters with novel medicines that doctors combine with older ones for extra potency. In the first half, the newer breast cancer drug Perjeta helped buoy sales of the older one Herceptin.

Roche is mining the drug combination approach in various ways. It won regulatory approval last month to sell its blockbuster Avastin in Europe together with another of its older cancer drugs, Tarceva, for patients with a specific type of advanced lung cancer. And Herceptin is a component of Kadcyla, a recent treatment for breast tumors that bundles the 18-year-old drug with a technology that helps the medication carry chemotherapy directly into malignant cells while bypassing healthy ones.

To contact the reporter on this story: Johannes Koch in Berlin at To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chitra Somayaji at, Marthe Fourcade

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