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Roche downbeat on 2011 profit

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Roche downbeat on 2011 profit

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There has been a cautious outlook for earnings this year from Swiss drugmaker Roche after growth of its top-seller, the cancer treatment Avastin, slowed sharply in 2010.

Roche, which is the world’s largest maker of cancer drugs, is looking to cut costs after a string of product setbacks.

It is predicting sales will grow in low single-digit rates in local currencies this year. Net income rose four percent to 8.89 billion Swiss francs (6.9 billion euros) in 2010.

Roche’s comment echoed downbeat 2011 outlooks from rivals AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis and Pfizer.

Pharmaceutical companies generally are facing US healthcare reforms and a push in Europe for lower drug prices.

The sector is braced for higher costs from US healthcare reform as well as pressure to keep a lid on prices and patent expirations of key drugs.