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April 21, 2021, 1:28 a.m. EDT

Roche backs 2021 views after sales fall slightly

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By Olivia Bugault

Roche Holding AG said Wednesday that sales slightly decreased in its first quarter, while it confirmed its outlook for the year.

The Swiss pharmaceutical major posted sales of 14.93 billion Swiss francs ($16.30 billion), down from CHF15.14 billion a year earlier. At constant exchange rate, sales increased 3%, it said.

An analysts' consensus provided by FactSet had sales at CHF15.01 billion.

Sales at its pharmaceuticals division--its largest business--fell to CHF10.6 billion from CHF12.26 billion, while it rose 55% at constant exchange rate at its diagnostic division, it said.

The decline in sales at its pharmaceuticals business is mainly because of the coronavirus pandemic and the competition of biosimilars, Roche said. "The impact of biosimilars on sales of the established cancer medicines MabThera/Rituxan, Avastin and Herceptin remained significant (combined sales reduction of CHF1.6 billion), especially in the U.S.," it said.

Roche confirmed its 2021 outlook that includes expected sales growth in the low-to-mid-single-digit range at constant exchange rates.

Write to Olivia Bugault at olivia.bugault@wsj.com

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