Novartis profits narrow for 2008, despite strong Q4

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Novartis has reported a decline in net income for its 2008 year-end financial results, despite a 70 percent increase in net income for the 2008 fiscal fourth quarter.   

The Basel, Switzerland-based company said its year-end net income for 2008 was $8.23 billion, compared with $11.97 billion for the 2007 fiscal year, representing a 31 percent drop. For its 2008 fourth quarter, Novartis reported net income of $1.55 billion, compared with $913 million in the year-ago quarter—representing a 70 percent increase.

For the 2008 fourth quarter, Novartis said that its cardiovascular products income increased 14 percent to $1.7 billion, with the new high blood pressure medicines Exforge ($118 million) and Tekturna/Rasilez ($46 million) delivering rapid growth. Sales for the two drugs in 2008 were $406 million and $144 million, respectively.

For a cardiovascular medication breakdown for 2008 fiscal year, the company said that:
  • Diovan, a high blood pressure drug, grew 10 percent to $5.7 billion, with areas outside the U.S. now accounting for about 58 percent of net sales and delivering 10 percent growth. Novartis said that U.S. sales also rose 10 percent as Diovan strengthened its 40 percent share of the angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) segment, despite an overall slowdown in the antihypertensive market.
  • Exforge, a single-pill combination of the ARB Diovan with the calcium channel blocker amlodipine, which was approved by the FDA in July 2008 as a first-line therapy, had worldwide sales of $406 million in 2008.
  • Lotrel, a single-pill combination therapy for high blood pressure, fell 48 percent in the U.S. "after a launch in mid-2007 by a generic competitor." Worldwide profits were $386 million.
  • Tekturna/Rasilez, a high blood pressure medicine, showed consistent growth in the U.S. and Europe, achieving worldwide profits of $144 million.