Japan’s Astellas Pharma has posted a 5.1% rise in net earnings for the first quarter ended June 30, with growth being driven once again by the immunosuppressant Prograf.

Net income came in at just over 45.18 billion yen ($420 million), while operating profit slipped 5.4% to 68.30 billion yen, hit by the effects of foreign exchange. Sales rose 3.0% to 254.55 billion yen.

That rise was due to the immunosuppressant Prograf (tacrolimus), which was up 6.1% to 52.2 billion yen, while Vesicare (solifenacin) for overactive bladder leapt 35% to 17.8 billion yen. Harnal (tamsulosin) for benign prostatic hyperplasia, sold as Omnic in Europe and Flomax in the USA, was down 2.3% to 31.6 billion yen, and the antifungal agent Funguard/Mycamine (micafungin) had sales of 4.1 billion yen, a decrease of 0.2%.

Astellas also reported that sales of the cholesterol blockbuster Lipitor (atorvastatin), which it markets in Japan in collaboration with the product's originator Pfizer, were down 0.7% to 24.4 billion yen.

Sales growth for Prograf is particularly welcome seeing as how it has lost patent protection in the USA. Astellas said it was surprised that no copycat counterpart has made it to the market and if one is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, sales would dip but not by much as doctors specialising in organ rejection are not expected to switch to any generic transplant drug.

For the year to March, Astellas reiterated its forecast for an operating profit of 232.0 billion yen, which would represent a decline of 16% on the previous year.