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Novartis and Abbott start year with strong Q1 sales

Published on 23/04/15 at 11:44am
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Novartis and Abbott have both posted strong first-quarter results and made bullish predictions about their financial performance in 2015.

Novartis says their net sales are expected to show mid-single digit and high-single digit growth, and the applies for its core operating income.

The Swiss pharma giant’s sales of pharmaceuticals were $7.1 billion in the first three months of the year, up 1% compared to the same period in 2014. The firm put this down to divestments – including oncology and vaccines deals with GSK and an animal health deal with Lilly – which “resulted in exceptional operating income gains”.

The company also put the credit for its favourable financials down to recent FDA approvals of Zarxio, its biosimilar version of Amgen’s Neupogen (filgrastim), psoriasis treatment Cosentyx (secukinumab).

It also cited a pending EU approval for its heart failure drug LCZ696, which has now been given Promising Innovative Medicines status – the first step towards acceptance into the UK’s Early Access to Medicines Scheme.

Its top-performing ‘growth products’ include Gilenya (fingolimod), Afinitor (everolimus), Galvus (vildagliptin), Lucentis (ranibizumab), Xolair (omalizumab), the company’s COPD portfolio and Jakavi ruxolitinib). These generated $2.9 billion, or 41% of the division’s net sales, a 25% increase compared to the same period last year.

Net sales in Novartis’ subsidiaries – its generics arm Sandoz and eyecare arm Alcon – were also up 9% ($2.2 billion) and 5% ($2.6 billion), respectively.

Commenting on the results, Joseph Jimenez, the new chief executive of Novartis, says: "Our focus on execution has resulted in a strong operational performance. We have completed the GSK and Lilly transactions and innovation continues to be strong.

"We had three approvals in oncology, FDA priority review for LCZ696, Zarxio became the first biosimilar approved under the new pathway in the US and we launched Cosentyx globally. We are on track to deliver our full-year guidance."

Meanwhile Abbott reported in its financial results that the company had made first-quarter worldwide sales of $4.9 billion – a 10% operational rise “including double-digit growth in emerging markets.” Its established pharmaceuticals division made $897 million in sales, up 32% on the year before, following a deal with Mylan.

Miles White, chairman and chief executive of Abbott, says: “We're off to a good start this year, with particularly strong performance in our branded generics, international nutrition and global diagnostics businesses."

Lilian Anekwe

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