(Changes sourcing in paragraph 1, adds company response in paragraph 2 and background in paragraphs 3, 4 & 6)

Feb 26 (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Roche said on Monday it is evaluating options for its lung disease drug Esbriet, which has seen declining sales due to competition from cheaper copycat versions.

A company spokesperson said in an emailed response to Reuters that the move was "part of the normal process to review (its) portfolio of established products", adding that it will take several months before a final decision is made.

Generic versions of Esbriet began entering the market in the second quarter of 2022, impacting sales of Roche's drug. Sales of Esbriet fell 70% to 202 million Swiss francs ($229.42 million) in 2023. Esbriet earned over 1 billion Swiss francs ($1.14 billion) in 2021.

Esbriet is an oral anti-fibrotic medicine approved for the treatment of a lung disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which affects the tissue surrounding the air sacs in the lungs.

Bloomberg News earlier on Monday reported citing sources that Roche is in the early stages of evaluating a disposal (of the drug) after getting interest from potential suitors.

The drug, approved in Europe in 2011 and in the United States in 2014, is available in about 40 countries, according to Roche's website. ($1 = 0.8805 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Sriparna Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar and Shailesh Kuber)