Updated on 24 October 2013
Roche says that it looks not at the size of the patient population but how much additional value and medical benefit could be generated for the individual patient
Singapore: Roche CEO, Mr Severin Schwan, has put an end to long-standing speculations about whether the firm might branch out into the domain of rare or orphan diseases. In a recently held press conference, he revealed that Roche's main criteria when looking at which diseases to go after was not the size of the patient population but how much additional value and medical benefit could be generated for the individual patient.
Furthermore, the CEO did not rule out a move into treatments for rare diseases, and pointed out that it would go where it could address unmet medical needs, even for very small numbers of patients.
Mr Schwan highlighted that Roche's portfolio already included treatments for rare diseases such as cystic fibrosis and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). He said, "The reasons we went into those areas was because there was a medical need and we felt that we could make a difference for those patients concerned."
Interestingly, Mr Schwan's comments on the topic are in contrast with those of the group head of pharmaceuticals, who recently said that treating ultra-rare diseases was a business that was distinct from Roche's current area of expertise.
Mr Schwan's substantiated the fact that the firm is looking to branch out of its core cancer drugs and and focus on autoimmune and inflammatory diseases as well as neuroscience. He further said, "So in those three areas naturally we are a partner of choice for many companies. But again, if there was an interesting opportunity outside of those established areas, I would be very open to look at it."