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Novartis numbers better than expected

Novartis puts in a glowing performance over the first-half of 2001


Healthcare giant, Novartis, managed to increase first-half net profit by a better than expected 10 per cent to SFr3.73 billion ($2.25 billion), as sales at its flagship drugs division rose by 13 per cent.

Analysts had been expecting a slightly lower profit from the Basel-based company over the first-half of 2001.

First-half operating profits rose by seven per cent to SFr3.48 billion, but its operating margin slipped, as expected, to 22.5 per cent of sales from 23.5 per cent in the same period last year as it boosted spending on marketing key drugs.

Group sales rose 12 per cent in local currencies and 11 per cent in Swiss francs to SFr15.46 billion. Turnover at its core pharmaceuticals division increased to SFr9.69 billion, helped by a 21 per cent increase in sales in the United States.

All figures were adjusted to reflect only continuing operations after the spinoff of its agribusiness last year.

Novartis's reputation for smoothly rolling out new products has been tarnished this year by regulatory setbacks that delayed the launch of two potential blockbusters - Zelmac/Zelnorm for irritable bowel syndrome and Xolair for asthma.

Novartis said it would appeal the US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) decision in June not to approve Zelmac/Zelnorm.

It said it had decided with US partner Bristol-Myers Squibb not to pursue an accord to jointly develop and market the drug, for which an application for regulatory approval in the European Union has also been withdrawn.

Novartis will submit fresh data requested by the FDA for Xolair late in 2002 or early in 2003, it said.

swissinfo with agencies


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