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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 January, 2005, 10:51 GMT
Novartis forecasts record sales
Novartis employees in the laboratory
Novartis is relying on its blockbuster drugs to drive profit in 2005
Drugmaker Novartis has reported a rise in earnings for 2004 and forecast that growth will continue in 2005, with sales hitting record levels.

The world's fifth-largest drug firm said operating profit rose 11% to hit $6.54bn (3.5bn) in 2004.

Chief executive Daniel Vasella said that "the outlook for 2005 remains strong" despite challenging conditions.

"We expect to deliver again a competitive performance with record sales and strong earnings," he said.

Breakdown

Sales in 2004 hit $28.25bn, up from $24.86bn a year earlier.

Pills and capsules

One of the main drivers of Novartis's growth has been its hypertension drug Diovan, which helps combat high blood pressure.

Demand has been growing, with the UK's NHS, for example, estimating that one in every five of the country's adults suffers from hypertension.

Novartis said that total sales at its key pharmaceuticals division rose by 15% to $18.5bn in 2004.

During the fourth quarter, however, profits dipped because of charges relating to Novartis's restructuring.





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