"The few, the proud, the profitable" could be Genentech's motto. One of the world's oldest and most successful biotechs (in an industry full of money-losers), the firm has a number of blockbuster cancer therapies based on its antibody (protein) technologies. Its oncology portfolio contains Rituxan (non-Hodgkin's lymphoma), Avastin (colorectal and lung cancers), Herceptin (breast cancer), Tarceva (lung cancer), Xeloda (metastatic colorectal cancer), and Zelboraf (inoperable melanoma). Other marketed drugs include age-related macular degeneration treatment Lucentis, human growth hormone Nutropin, cystic fibrosis drug Pulmozyme, and asthma drug Xolair. Genentech is wholly owned by Swiss drugmaker Roche.
Roche's control of Genentech places the larger drugmaker in the fast lane of biopharmaceuticals. Roche depends on Genentech's creative and successful research organization to keep its drug pipeline full of promising new biotech drugs, thus relieving stress from patent-expiration pressures in its existing product lineup.
Since taking full ownership of Genentech (previously a majority owned subsidiary) in 2009, Roche has cut expenses by combining the two companies' global manufacturing and supply networks and by integrating the research, marketing, and administrative operations in the US, while at the same time working to maintain Genentech's innovative identity and culture. Genentech's San Francisco office is now the primary administrative and marketing headquarters for Roche in the US and has taken over US sales efforts for Roche products including Tamiflu (influenza), Pegasys (hepatitis), CellCept (transplants), and Xeloda (colorectal cancer). The company's products are distributed through wholesalers including AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, and Cardinal Health. In international markets its products are primarily marketed through parent Roche's global sales force and distribution network.
Instead of acquisitions, Genentech has traditionally relied on its own internal efforts (sometimes with research partners) to develop and commercialize new drugs, and this strategy has remained in place following the Roche takeover. More than half of its commercial product sales, as well as a majority of development projects, relate to oncology. The company's development-stage pharmaceuticals in clinical trials include personalised medicines for treating various cancers, including skin cancers and breast cancer, and such ailments as lupus, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease. Genentech has development partnerships with a number of firms including Seattle Genetics (cancers), NovImmune (autoimmune diseases), and Adimab (antibody studies).
Recent R&D successes include Zelboraf, Genentech's personalized medicine for treating inoperable or metastatic melanoma (skin cancer) that was approved by the FDA in 2011; concurrently, a related diagnostic test developed by Roche was approved. In addition, in 2012 the company received FDA approval for another promising new personalized breast cancer drug, Perjeta, which is a combination drug used alongside Herceptin and traditional cancer drug docetaxel; it also launched is Erivedge drug for advanced cases of basal cell carcinoma.
While its long-term success depends on its ability to develop novel compounds (especially as older drugs lose patent protection), Genentech is also seeking shorter-term success by boosting commercialization efforts for existing top sellers, including Avastin, Rituxan (known internationally as MabThera), and Lucentis. Part of the company's success comes from its efforts to expand the number of approved uses of its marketed drugs. For example, in 2012 Lucentis was approved for the additional indication of diabetic macular edema treatment, and in 2011 Rituxan received approval to treat follicular lymphoma and vasculitis (blood vessel inflammation). Also in 2011 rheumatoid arthritis treatment Actemra (co-developed with Roche-controlled Chugai Pharmaceutical) gained further FDA approvals for joint ailments including a rare childhood condition, systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Other Genentech R&D programs are testing therapy regimens using combinations of existing drugs (often referred to as cocktail therapies) for new applications in treating cancers.
Genentech is expanding its manufacturing capacity by adding on to existing facilities and through new facility construction efforts. For instance, it is constructing a new bulk drug manufacturing facility in Singapore (which will become part of the Roche global network of plants), and it is building a new fill and finish packaging facility in Hillsboro, Oregon. However, some US expansion efforts have been discontinued due to the Roche integration efforts.
Roche, which previously owned a majority stake in Genentech, made the company a wholly owned subsidiary in 2009 when it purchased the 44% of Genentech that it did not already own for about $47 billion. Through its 33% stake in Roche, Novartis is an indirect shareholder in Genentech. Novartis holds international licensing rights for Xolair and Lucentis (Genentech holds commercial rights in the US).