Profits and sales were down at Novartis in the fourth quarter due to restructuring and currency impacts but the Swiss major says it is now set up to grow strongly for the coming years.

Net profit fell 26.5% to $1.49 billion, due mainly to a charge related to the sale of Novartis’s flu vaccines business to CSL, while core net income edged up 1% to $2.91 billion. Sales declined 2% to $14.63 billion hit by a 55% fall in revenues from the blood pressure lowerer Diovan (valsartan) to $379 million, due to generic competition.

Turnover from Glivec/Gleevec (imatinib), for chronic myeloid leukaemia and gastrointestinal stromal tumours were up 1% to $1.24 billion, while the successor to Glivec, Tasigna (nilotinib), approved for CML, contributed $428 million, up 22%. The acromegaly therapy Sandostatin (ocreotide) was flat at $416 million, while the cardiovascular drug Exforge (amlodipine plus valsartan) brought in $298 million, down 20%, Tekturna/Rasilez (aliskiren) also fell 20% to just $47 million.__

Sales of Lucentis (ranibizumab) for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration fell 7% to $588 million, but kidney cancer drug Afinitor (everolimus) soared 18% to $426 million. Turnover from Galvus (vildagliptin) slipped 10% to $295 million, while the oral multiple sclerosis drug Gilenya brought in $666 million, a leap of 26%.__

Chief executive Joe Jimenez (pictured) said 2014 “was a transformational year for Novartis”, saying that “we improved our execution, while taking steps to focus the company on our three leading businesses with global scale”. The company is in the process of completing a complex deal which will see Novartis buy the UK group’s oncology products and sell its own vaccines unit to the latter; the companies are also creating a consumer health joint venture.

Mr Jimenez added that “we delivered solid sales growth with margin expansion, strengthened innovation and advanced our quality and productivity agendas. I’m confident that we are positioned for future success”. For 2015, Novartis is forecasting mid-single digit sales growth and a high-single digit rise for core operating income.