Page last updated at 08:01 GMT, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 09:01 UK

Novartis profits lifted by swine flu vaccine

Flu vaccination
Contracts for swine flu vaccines agreed in 2009 boosted Novartis's results

Profits at Swiss drugmaker Novartis have risen by almost a third, boosted by sales of its flu vaccine made during the swine flu pandemic.

The firm made a net profit of $2.95bn (£1.93bn) in the first quarter of 2010, compared with a $1.98bn profit for the same quarter a year earlier.

Sales rose 25% to $12bn. The news sent Novartis shares up 1.4% in Zurich.

The firm said it expected sales growth in the year ahead to be boosted by its pharmaceuticals division.

"The strong sales and profit contributions in the first quarter of 2010 from fulfilment of agreed-upon government supply contracts for A (H1N1) pandemic vaccines, with sales approximately $400m above the group's target at the beginning of the year, will further strengthen these prospects," Novartis said in a statement.

Novartis has agreed to buy a majority stake in eyecare company Alcon from Nestle and said the deal made it difficult to make profit forecasts.

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