Drugs giant Novartis posts stable earnings

Drugs giant Novartis posts stable earnings
Photo: Andrew Hecht
Swiss pharmaceutical group Novartis said Thursday that its net profit remained stable in the third quarter and confirmed that it was on track to meet its 2012 sales target.

Novartis, which is in the spotlight after three European countries halted sales of two of its flu vaccines on Wednesday, announced net profit of $2.5 billion between July and September.

Operating profit rose 3 percent to $3 billion over the same period but sales fell 7 percent to $13.8 billion.

Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez blamed the lower sales on patents expiring on the group's cancer treatment drug Diovan and "a down quarter in Sandoz and Consumer Health."

But new products "had performed well and represent 29 percent of group sales", said Jiminez, saying he remained "confident that this improves the long-term growth prospects of the business", with 2012 sales expected to remain stable compared with 2011.

In Europe, the Basel-based group reacted to a sales freeze on its flu vaccines in Italy, Switzerland and Austria after concerns about impurities, saying that there was "no impact on the safety or efficacy of the vaccine."

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