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Novartis sees profit slip

Published on 23/10/13 at 10:36am
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Novartis saw generic competition erode profit in the third quarter of the year, although sales across the group actually rose compared to the previous year.

Net profit was down 5% to $2.3 billion between July and September, even though sales were up 4% to $14.3 billion.

Pharma turnover for the three months was more or less static, rising just 1% to $7.9 billion - and operating income fell 10% to $2.3 billion.

The star performer was multiple sclerosis drug Gilenya, which jumped 63% to $518 million, while kidney cancer treatment Afinitor was up 65% year-on-year to $337 million.

Sales of leukaemia drug Tasigna were up 25% to $315 million in the third quarter, with diabetes treatment Galvus rising 46% to $316 million year-on-year.

Asthma treatment Xolair rose 13% to $151 million but Lucentis sales fell 1% in the three months to $581 million.

Blood pressure drug Diovan is under pressure in Europe, where its sales slipped 14% due to generic rivals - although in the US Novartis continues to have breathing space as the FDA has not yet authorised Ranbaxy Laboratories’ version of the brand.

Given western pharma companies’ travails in China this year their financial performance in the country has perhaps been monitored even more closely than usual, as the figures may provide an interesting barometer of sentiment, but Novartis is doing well there so far.

Emerging markets performed strongly for the Swiss firm, with sales in China up 18% while Russia saw a 15% rise.

Sandoz’s net sales rose 11% to $2.3 billion, while sales of Menveo drove a 2% increase to $594 million in Novartis’ vaccines and diagnostics business. Meanwhile Alcon’s net sales rose 3% to $2.5 billion.

Novartis chief executive Joseph Jimenez praised a ‘strong sales performance’ and highlighted “our third FDA Breakthrough Therapy designated product of the year for BYM338 in a degenerative muscle disease”.

Adam Hill

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