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Roche (RHHBY)'s $575 Million Skyscraper That Houses 2,000 Employees Affirms Loyalty to Hometown

9/18/2015 10:21:16 AM

Roche's $575 Million Skyscraper That Houses 2,000 Employees Affirms Loyalty to Hometown

September 18, 2015
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

BASEL, Switzerland – In addition to dominating the world’s oncology drug market, Roche (RHHBY) is now dominating hometown Basel, Switzerland’s skyline with its new $575 million skyscraper, Reuters reported this morning.

The new 41-story skyscraper, dubbed Building 1, is so tall it can be seen from both neighboring France and Germany. The building, which contains 74,200 square meters of floor space, will be able to house 2,000 employees, Roche said. Construction began on the building in 2011. Approximately 18 months of the early construction phase focused solely on building a solid foundation, Roche said.

Roche planned the building primarily due to the lack of space at its existing facility in Basel. However, some analysts see the building tell a different story – one of defiance to Novartis (NVS), Basel’s other major pharmaceutical company, which has been making its own oncology advances. Michael Nawrath, an analyst at Zuercher Kantonalbank, told Reuters the building was clearly a warning to other companies honing in on Roche’s oncological territory, particularly Novartis, which earlier this year struck a $15 billion deal to acquire GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)’s oncology business.

Novartis is also looking at building its own skyscraper, Reuters said. The company is planning to build three high rises in an effort to revamp its Basel complex.
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Earlier this month Severin Schwan, Roche’s chief executive officer, blasted the U.K.’s decision to no longer provide funding for some cancer drugs, including Roche’s Avastin and Kadcyla. He said the decision, which was based on finances, denies effective treatments to cancer patients.

In August, Genentech (RHHBY)’s, a division of Roche, investigational cancer drug atezolizumab successfully shrank tumors in people with locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose disease expressed PD-L1 (Programmed Death Ligand-1). Genentech also has another promising drug in Venetoclax. The drug is a small molecule inhibitor of the BCL-2 protein and is designed to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients harboring the 17p deletion, which represents 30 to 50 percent of people with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

In July, Roche terminated its two-year-old $1 billion cancer research deal with Molecular Partners.

While Roche has been leading the way over the years in oncology drugs, other companies are staking their claims, including AstraZeneca PLC (AZN). AstraZeneca has been developing multiple immuno-oncology treatments and this year has moved deeper into the field. In January AstraZeneca tapped Robert Iannone as the head of its immuno-oncology development programs.

On Aug. 6, AstraZeneca struck a licensing agreement with Heptares Therapeutics worth more than $510 million, for global rights to HTL-1071 for the treatment of a number of cancers. HTL-1071 is an adenosine A2A receptor antagonist.

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