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Last Updated: Monday, 23 April 2007, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Novartis unveils jump in profits
Person holding handful of tablets
Novartis predicts record sales and earnings in 2007
Swiss drugs firm Novartis has strong sales of cancer and blood pressure drugs to thank for a rise in profits.

The world's fourth biggest pharmaceutical firm said net profit rose 11% to $2.2bn (1.1bn) in the three months to 31 March.

Net sales rose 18% compared with the same period last year to $9.8bn - buoyed by sales of Glivec and Diovan.

Looking ahead, the firm maintained its forecast that net sales would grow by more than 5% during 2007.

"All divisions, particularly Pharmaceuticals and (generics unit) Sandoz, delivered excellent performance," said chief executive Daniel Vasella.

"I am confident of another year of record sales and earnings in 2007."

Outlook cut

As well as better-than-expected sales, Novartis' finances were also buoyed by one-off gains, experts said.

A legal settlement of $67m for its vaccines unit and a $106m boost from US orders for the group's new high blood pressure treatment Tekturna ahead of its release were among the factors that improved its earnings.

However, the firm did also take a $52m hit from the US decision to suspend its bowel drug Zelnorm amid concerns it may cause cardiovascular problems in some patients.

The decision is expected to cut annual sales by $600m and led the firm to cut its outlook last month.

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