The big pharma firm that saw the future

The Economist

3 June 2021 - Long ago Roche bet on personalised health care. Now its time has come.

Roche is a strange entity. The Swiss giant is the world’s second-biggest drugmaker and one of big pharma’s most profitable firms. But its largest shareholding group, mostly descended from Fritz Hoffmann-La Roche, who founded the company in 1896, is led by André Hoffmann, a nature lover and sustainability advocate who believes that the purpose of business is not mainly to make money. Even its bosses are discouraged from making a quick franc. 

Severin Schwan, an Austrian who has led the company since 2008, is only Roche’s seventh ceo in 125 years. Much of his pay is tied up in company stock for ten years, giving him, as he puts it, “literally a vested interest” in its long-term future.

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Michael Wonder

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Michael Wonder

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Medicine , US , Targeted therapy