almost 4 years ago • 2 mins
Roche, the world’s second-biggest pharmaceutical company, released a first-quarter update on Wednesday that suggested it’s – very gradually – getting the upper hand on coronavirus 👨🔬
Roche’s sales were 7% higher than the same time last year, and it mostly had its diagnostics business to thank: demand for its COVID-19 testing kits helped bump up the segment’s revenue by almost 30%. And that was without sales from the firm’s new coronavirus antibody test, which will show whether someone’s already beaten the virus. That’ll launch in May, and it’s likely to give this quarter’s earnings another shot in the arm 💉
Roche’s update seemed well-received: the Swiss giant’s stock rose 2%. Investors have been buying up pharma companies’ stocks in their droves, apparently in response to the reported progress of various coronavirus treatment programs. And they’ve been showing biotech stocks some love too ❤️ That may partly be because of the companies’ own successful efforts against the virus, but also because a bigger pharma firm is more likely to acquire them to get early access to effective drugs. Case in point: Pfizer-partnered BioNTech’s stock shot up on Wednesday after it won approval to begin clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine in Germany.
While Roche has gone down the antibody testing route, European rivals Novartis and AstraZeneca are instead looking into how existing drugs can be used to treat coronavirus. Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, meanwhile, are focused on developing new vaccines. But don’t get too excited: Roche cautioned on Wednesday that between development, testing, and production, a vaccine’s unlikely before the end of 2021 📆 At that point, investors may want to start thinking about how much the successful companies might actually earn from their treatments – especially given the pressures on typical price structures and the higher costs associated with breakneck production speeds.
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