Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche has reported a 4% increase in revenues for 2012 due to a growing demand for cancer drugs.

Group sales totalled Sfr45.5bn ($49.5bn), compared to Sfr42.5bn in 2011.

The firm said top-selling cancer drugs Rituxan, Herceptin and Avastin all performed strongly in 2012, which led its Pharmaceuticals Division to post a 5% increase in sales to Sfr35.2bn.

The division also benefited from the launch of Perjeta for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, Erivedge for advanced basal cell carcinoma in the US and Zelboraf for BRAF V600 mutation-positive metastatic melanoma in Europe.

Net profit for 2012 increased by 2.4% to Sfr9.8bn, while the group’s diagnostics division reported a 4% rise in sales to Sfr10.3bn.

Roche CEO Severin Schwan commented on the results. He said; "2012 was a very good year for Roche. We met our financial targets, grew faster than the market, and our strong pipeline positions us well for further growth.

"A particular highlight in 2012 was the approval of breast cancer medicine Perjeta, which helps women with HER2-positive breast cancer live longer. We now look forward to getting T-DM1, our other novel breast cancer therapy, to patients as soon as possible."

Roche said it is "confident" that trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1), which was granted priority review in the US in November, will also soon become available to patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer following the strong overall survival data shown in the EMILIA trial.

Looking forward, Roche’s board of directors has proposed an 8% increase in earnings to Sfr7.3bn in 2013.

Image: Aerial view of Roche Basel from south with river Rhine, Switzerland. Photo: Courtesy of Roche.