Abbott Laboratories’ earnings have been hit by the cost of its acquisitions of Solvay Pharmaceuticals and Facet Biotech, and the effects of healthcare reform legislation in the USA.

Net income for the first quarter fell 30.3% to just over $1.00 billion, due in part to the recent reforms across the pond which affected sales by $60 million because of higher Medicaid rebates. As a result, Abbott has lowered its 2010 forecast to $4.13-$4.18 per share from $4.20-$4.25.

Group sales were up 14.6% to $7.70 billion, helped by currency effects, while pharmaceutical revenues climbed 12.9% to $4.10 billion. Growth was driven by the anti-inflammatory blockbuster Humira (adalimumab), which is approved for indications covering rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and psoriasis, and sales of the drug shot up 36.5% to $1.40 billion.

As for the company’s lipids franchise, TriCor (fenofibrate) and the recently-approved TriLipix (fenofibric acid) contributed $291 million, up 15.2%, while Niaspan (niacin) brought in $205 million, a rise of 14.8%. Of Abbott’s other products, the prostate cancer therapy Lupron (leuprolide) fell 10.4% to $172 million, while revenues from the HIV drug Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) dipped 0.1% to $292 million. Sales of the hypothyroid medication Synthroid (levothyroxine) were up 18.1% to $123 million.

Miles White, Abbott chief executive, said that during the quarter the firm “enhanced our emerging markets presence and pharmaceutical pipeline” with the Solvay Pharma acquisition and the Facet purchase which closed this week.

Abbott shares slipped but analysts seemed impressed. In a research note, Rick Wise at Leerink Swann said that "in our view, Abbott's guidance reflects stronger-than-expected growth of the underlying business, enabling the company to absorb some of the health care reform impact”.