ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Novartis NOVN.VX raised its outlook for the full year on Wednesday in response to delays to a generic competitor for its blockbuster blood pressure pill Diovan that will soften the blow of patent losses.
The Basel-based firm had expected 2013 to be a year of transition as it bears the brunt of last year's patent loss on Diovan. It is counting on sales of new products like cancer drug Afinitor and multiple sclerosis pill Gilenya to fill the gap.
So far it has been granted some reprieve by delays to a generic version of Diovan monotherapy. Novartis said it expected generic competition to stay absent in the third quarter. But this means it will face a bigger generic impact in 2014.
Novartis said it expects full-year sales to grow at a low-single digit rate in constant currencies and core earnings to decline in the low single digits. It had previously guided for a mid-single digit drop in core earnings and flat net sales.
Second-quarter core earnings per share fell 4 percent to $1.30, undershooting the Reuters analyst consensus of $1.34. Net sales inched up 1 percent to $14.488 billion, compared to the average poll forecast of $14.314 billion.
Sales at its pharmaceuticals division slipped 2 percent, hit by lower prices and patent losses. Growth products rose 26 percent, contributing to 37 percent of the unit's sales.
It generics unit Sandoz and eye care division Alcon helped offset some of the impact from the weaker pharma division, with sales rising 3 percent in both units.
The group expects a strengthening U.S. currency to shave 2 percent off full-year sales and about 6 percent off operating income, assuming June average rates prevail, up from a previous guidance of 4 percent on operating income.
Reporting by Caroline Copley. Editing by Jane Merriman