© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A logo of Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche in Rotkreuz, Switzerland, April 12, 2012. REUTERS/Michael Buholzer/File Photo

By Ludwig Burger

(Reuters) -Switzerland’s Roche said first-quarter sales dropped 7% on falling demand for its COVID-19 therapies and diagnostics kits, less steep than feared by analysts due to strong revenue growth from other pharmaceuticals.

Quarterly group revenue fell to 15.3 billion Swiss francs ($17.2 billion), the company reported on Wednesday, beating market expectations of 14.8 billion francs.

The company, which offers coronavirus lab testing as well as antibody treatment Ronapreve and repurposed arthritis drug Actemra against COVID, does not report earnings for its first and third quarter.

Sales and core earnings per share were still expected to decrease at a “low single-digit” percentage in 2023, the pharmaceuticals and diagnostics company added.

Quarterly sales of Vabysmo, an injection against a common form of blindness in the elderly that won approval last year, came in at 432 million francs, making it the strongest growth driver in the pharmaceuticals division, Roche said.

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