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Novartis increases Q3 profit

Novartis earned $2.08 billion (SFr2.36 billion) on $10.75 billion in sales in the third quarter of 2008, the pharmaceutical giant said on Monday.

The result, a 12 per cent increase over the same period last year, brings the Basel-based firm's net sales to $31.38 billion and net income to $6.66 billion for the first nine months of the year.

The Swiss drugmaker had benefited from positive currency translation and in particular, from a weak United States dollar.

The group's operating income advanced 24 per cent to $7.28 billion up to September, which the firm credited to an efficiency initiative focusing on innovation and expanding high-growth markets.

Novartis also said it would be cutting 550 jobs in the US, following in the steps of rivals Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and France's Sanofi-Aventis.

On Friday, the firm also said it had appointed Joerg Reinhardt as it's chief operating officer and that the head of its consumer health unit, Thomas Ebeling, was leaving the company.