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Cancer drugs save Roche from weak Tamiflu sales

The pharmaceutical giant Roche has announced a marginal rise in third-quarter revenue on demand for the company's Avastin and Herceptin cancer medications.

The Basel-based firm, which reports profit figures for the half year and full year, said sales had risen to SFr11.3 billion ($9.83 billion) from SFr11.12 billion the same time last year.

“We again expect a good full-year result and confirm our outlook for 2008,” said Severin Schwan, the company’s chief executive.

However, the nine-month total for the drugmaker stood at SFr33.3 billion, a two per cent drop, on the decline in sales of the antiviral Tamiflu, which fell 69 per cent to SFr428 million for the period.

Roche also confirmed it would be moving ahead with a $43.7 billion bid for the rest of California-based Genentech, the company which developed its two best-selling cancer drugs.

Roche currently owns 56 per cent of Genentech and a full takeover would give it control of all revenues for its profitable drugs. In July, Genentech rejected Roche’s offer of $89 per share, saying it was undervalued.

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