Novartis shares are on the up this morning as the Swiss drugs giant posted better-than-expected earnings for the second quarter.

Net profits rose 17% to $2.27 billion, boosted by the weak dollar, and the successful implementation of the firm’s cost-cutting programme. Sales increased 14% (or 5%) in local currencies to $10.73 billion.

Pharmaceutical revenues were also up 14% to $6.93 billion, ahead of Novartis’ own previous forecast and fairly impressive given the generic competition that has battered the firm’s earnings in the USA. The latter effect hit sales of blood-pressure-lowering drug Lotrel (almodipine/benazepril), which collapsed 59% to $100 million and epilepsy drug Trileptal (oxcarbazepine), down 58% to $83 million.

However the blood pressure lowerer Diovan (valsartan) put in a stellar performance, with sales up 22% to $1.50 billion, while Glivec/Gleevec (imatinib), for chronic myeloid leukemia and gastrointestinal stromal tumours, increased 26% to $942 million.

Sales of Femara (letrozole), an oral treatment for women with hormone-sensitive breast cancer, were up 26% to $291 millionand the acromegaly therapy Sandostatin climbed 14% to $289 million. As for Novartis’ newer products, the cardiovascular products Tekturna/Rasilez (aliskiren) and Exforge (amlodipine plus valsartan brought in $30 million and $101 million, respectively. Exjade (deferasirox), the first once-daily oral therapy for treating patients with iron overload, soared 40% to $129 million.

Lucentis (ranibizumab) for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration shot up to $242 million, compared with $72 million in the like, year-earlier period. The osteoporosis drug Aclasta/Reclast brought in $64 million.

Chief executive Daniel Vasella said that the growth acceleration in the second quarter “and our R&D successes, especially in pharmaceuticals and vaccines, demonstrate that…we are heading towards a promising future despite a weak economy”. He added that “speed and productivity of operations are improving and growth in most countries is dynamic”.