Profits drop at Novartis

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis has seen its net profit fall seven per cent for 2011 to $9.25 billion (SFr8.59 billion) despite sales increasing 16 per cent to $58.57 billion.

This content was published on January 25, 2012 - 08:50 and agencies

Fourth-quarter sales rose eight per cent to $14.781 billion, helped by demand for some of its newest products, such as eye drug Lucentis and cancer medicine, Tasigna.

However net profit was down by 47 per cent for the period to $2.32 billion, after the decision to end a clinical study into the wider uses of hypertension drug Tekturna and other charges.

Novartis expects sales in constant currency this year to be in line with those posted in 2011.

"While productivity measures and margin improvements on products launched since 2007 are important contributions to improving profitability, they are not expected to fully offset the loss of margin from generic competition, price erosion," Novartis said.

The Basel-based group added these measures would not be enough to shield its margins from investments required for new products and the impact of a possible delayed start-up of a manufacturing site in Nebraska.

Like many other global drugmakers, Novartis is cutting costs as the industry faces its biggest wave of patent expiries.

Novartis announced its latest round of job cuts earlier this month, saying it would slash nearly 2,000 of its US workforce to shield its top and bottom lines ahead of the patent loss of its blood-pressure blockbuster Diovan, which raked in sales of $5.7 billion in 2011.

Last autumn, the company also announced it was to slash around 1,000 jobs in Switzerland, including shutting down a production facility in Nyon near Geneva. But last week, a decision was reached to upgrade the factory and cut fewer positions in Basel.

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