Abbott Laboratories has posted strong second-quarter sales at its pharmaceuticals division, driven again by the performance of its anti-inflammatory blockbuster Humira.

Net income sneaked up 0.3% to $1.29 billion, while group sales were up 17.8% to $8.83 billion. Pharmaceutical revenues climbed 24.5% to $4.91 billion, boosted by currency effects and the contribution of recently-acquired Solvay Pharmaceuticals, as well as Humira (adalimumab). Sales of the latter, which is approved for indications covering rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and psoriasis, and sales of the drug shot up 21.5% to $1.59 billion.

As for the company’s lipids franchise, TriCor (fenofibrate) and TriLipix (fenofibric acid) contributed $388 million, up 15.6%, while Niaspan (niacin) brought in $211 million, a rise of 1.6%. Of Abbott’s other products, the prostate cancer therapy Lupron (leuprolide) fell 5.0% to $187 million, while revenues from the HIV drug Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) plunged 14.2% to $294 million. Sales of the hypothyroid medication Synthroid (levothyroxine) were up 11.1% to $129 million.

Miles White, Abbott chief executive, said that the firm’s “diverse sources of earnings growth” resulted in a “steady, reliable performance". Nutritional sales were up 10.1% to $1.41 billion, while diagnostics contributed $948 million, a rise of 8.0%. Vascular sales jumped 26.9% to $835 million.

Mr White also mentioned the $3.72 billion acquisition of the generics business Piramal Healthcare Solutions, which is giving Abbott “the number-one position in the fast-growing Indian pharmaceutical market”. He added that the deal follows “several other strategic actions that provide Abbott critical mass to capture the significant growth expected in emerging markets”.

The company reaffirmed its previously-issued 2010 earnings per share forecast of $4.13-$4.18, excluding special items. The results went down well with analysts who noted that earnings were pretty flat but that was principally due to acquisition costs and they are impressed by how Humira sales continue to soar. They also like the look of the pipeline, which has been boosted by the recent purchase of Facet Biotech.