Merck KGaA has posted a strong set of figures for the second quarter this morning, which reveal that earnings jumped 70.1%.

The Darmstadt, Germany-based group’s net income came in at 183.4 million euros, while revenues were up 15.6% to 2.21 billion euros. Turnover at its pharmaceutical division was up 9.9% to 1.56 billion euros, and its Merck Serono unit contributed 1.45 billion euros (+10%).

Driving that growth were sales of the multiple sclerosis drug Rebif (interferon beta-1a) which rose 4.0% to 402 million euros, while the colorectal/head and neck cancer drug Erbitux (cetuximab) climbed 23% to 210 million euros, a record. As for Merck’s other products, the beta blocker Concor (bisoprolol) franchise was down 3.2% to 108 million euros, while its Glucophage (metformin) diabetes products increased 3.9% to 81 million euros.

Merck’s thyroid treatments, notably Euthyrox (levothyroxine), contributed 47 million euros, up 21%. Sales of the fertility treatment Gonal-f (follitropin) increased 6.9% to 122 million euros and growth hormone Saizen (somatropin) rose 21% to 58 million euros.

The company’s other units also performed well, with sales at the consumer health division rising 9.4% to 114 million euros. Chemicals jumped 32% to 644 million euros while the liquid crystals division leapt 50% to 284 million euros.

Chairman Karl-Ludwig Kley is happy with the firm’s performance in the first half of the year, “therefore, we feel comfortable to again raise our guidance for 2010”. Excluding the contribution of the US laboratory equipment specialist Millipore Corp, which has been acquired for 5.2 billion euros, core operating profit is forecast to rise 40% this year, compared with previous guidance of 5%-15%, while revenue growth is predicted to come in at 12.5%, up from 3%-7%.