Roche calls its R&D status 'uniquely positioned'

BASEL, Switzerland Roche leaders appear confident about their company’s research and development position, with several investigational drugs in or about to begin late-stage development, according to remarks made at a recent investor conference.

The Swiss drug maker said in a statement that it was “uniquely positioned” to deliver long-term growth in drugs for treating cancer, autoimmune disorders and psychiatric disorders.

“Our success derives from the diversity of approaches applied by our pharmaceuticals and diagnostics R&D centers, which offer outstanding scientific excellence and an unparalleled breadth and depth of expertise in translational medicine and clinical science,” CEO Severin Schwan said.

Drugs in development include treatments for cancer, autoimmune disorders, psychiatric disorders and diabetes. The company hopes to seek regulatory approval for the Type 2 diabetes treatment taspoglutide in 2011 and plans to present results of five phase 3 trials at an American Diabetes Association conference in June. Phase 3 trials are also underway for pertuzumab, a treatment for breast cancer, and a phase 3 trial will begin this year for RG1678, a schizophrenia drug.

But things haven’t all been rosy. Last Monday, a trial of the drug ocrelizumab in rheumatoid arthritis patients was stopped amid safety concerns, followed Friday by the announcement that the drug Avastin (bevacizumab) failed to extend survival time in men with prostate cancer. A trial of ocrelizumab in patients with multiple sclerosis is ongoing, and Avastin already has approval from the Food and Drug Administration for treating several other cancers.

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