Irish arm of pharma giant Roche ‘trading profitably’ despite Covid-19

Company recorded 80 per cent increase in pretax profit to €8.59 million in 2019

The main Irish arm of pharma giant Roche overcame the challenges posed by Covid-19 and continued to trade profitably during 2020.

That is according to new accounts filed by Roche Products Ltd which show the company recorded an 80 per cent increase in pretax profit to €8.59 million in 2019.

This followed revenue increasing by 6.6 per cent from €96.13 million to €102.49 million in 2019.

The company – which markets and sells Roche products in Ireland – declared a dividend of €3 million during the year.


On the Covid-19 challenge faced by the company in 2020, the directors said “this has proven to be challenging with capacity significantly reduced in Q2 2020 and access to customers much restricted”.

However, the directors state that they are pleased to report “the company has ridden the challenges and continues to trade profitably”.

The directors state that along with other Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association members, the company saw continued delays in the reimbursement of medicines by the State.

They state: “This situation worsened in 2019 with a number of medicines held up in the system by the failure to make funding available even though these medicines had been approved as being cost-effective by the HSE.

"This impacted not only the companies but also the patients who were, therefore, denied the opportunity to be treated with new and innovative medicines which were widely available elsewhere in Europe. "

‘Cautiously optimistic’

The directors said that despite the challenges posed by similar competition, Covid-19 and delays in the reimbursement of medicines, they “remain cautiously optimistic for the future”.

Two new Roche drugs, Ocrevus for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and Tecentriq for the treatment of lung cancer, were launched in 2019 with sales performing well for both.

Hernlibra for the treatment of haemophilia, which was launched in 2018, also performed strongly.

Two of the company’s top medicines, Herceptin and Mabthera, became subject to competition from generic versions in 2017 and 2018.

The directors state: “2019 saw the first full impact of biosimilars on Herceptin. Both products were further eroded in 2019 and this significant pressure on the top line.”

The directors state that the 2019 performance was achieved in challenging market conditions.

Numbers employed at the company remained static at 83 as staff costs increased from €11.3 million to €13.5 million. Staff costs included severance costs of €644,000.

Salaries and bonuses to directors increased from €428,000 to €631,000 in 2019 while benefits in kind for 2019 for directors totalled €139,000.

On contingent liabilities facing the company, the directors state that there are legal claims against the company and they state that the Roche Group “has strong defences against these claims”.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times