Q4, full-year earnings up for Novartis

BASEL, Switzerland — Swiss drug maker Novartis posted sales of $14.2 billion for fourth quarter 2010 and $50.6 billion for the year as a whole, according to an earnings report released Thursday.

That compared with sales of $12.9 billion and $44.3 billion during fourth quarter 2009 and 2009 as a whole, respectively. Profits for the year were nearly $10 billion, an 18% increase from $8.4 billion in 2009, though profits for the quarter decreased by 2%, from fourth quarter 2009’s $2.32 billion to $2.27 billion in fourth quarter 2010.

“Novartis achieved excellent results in 2010 as all divisions contributed to above-market growth,” Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez said. “I am proud that Novartis continues to lead the industry in innovation, with 13 key product approvals and 16 major filings in pharmaceuticals in 2010, including our breakthrough multiple sclerosis therapy, Gilenya, which has been launched in the United States.”

Sandoz, the company’s generics arm, had sales of $8.5 billion, a 14% increase over 2009’s sales of $7.5 billion. This included strong growth in retail sales of generics and biosimilars, and the launch of a generic version of Sanofi-Aventis’ blood-thinning drug Lovenox (enoxaparin), as well as launches of generic versions of Astellas Pharma’s organ-transplant drug Prograf (tacrolimus) and Merck’s cardiovascular drug Cozaar (losartan).

In addition, the company expected to complete its $12.9 billion acquisition of eye care company Alcon this year.