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Cancer drugs drive Roche sales in 2012

European sales decline.

The Swiss health-care company Roche has posted revenues of 45.5bn Swiss francs for the year ended 31 December 2012, an increase of 4 per cent compared to 42.5bn Swiss francs for the same period a year ago.

The company’s sales in the US market grew 7 per cent, while sales in European market fell by 2 per cent. Meanwhile, Roche’s smaller diagnostics division improved revenue by 4 per cent.

The group’s net profit increased by 2.4 per cent to 9.8bn Swiss francs in 2012.

Due to growing demand for its Avastin and Herceptin cancer drugs, Roche’s core pharmaceuticals division improved revenues by 5 per cent. The division also benefited from the introduction of breast cancer drug Perjeta.

During the year, Roche had seen 11 positive results from 14 late stage drugs trials, as well as, launched three new cancer drugs.

Severin Schwan, CEO of Roche, said equated to a “very good year”, the group plans to increase its dividend by 8 per cent to 7.35 Swiss franc per share.

The company expects its earnings per share and sales to rise in 2013.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.