Schering-Plough has posted net income of $442 million for the fourth quarter, compared to a loss of $3.4 billion in the like-year period (due to charges from its Organon acquisition) and has touted what it believes is one of the best pipelines in the industry.

Revenues were up 17% to $4.3 billion, though sales from its cholesterol joint venture with Merck & Co, which includes Vytorin (ezetimibe and simvastatin) and Zetia (ezetimibe), fell 26% (see today’s Merck story). However, the anti-inflammatory Remicade (infliximab), the Johnson & Johnson drug which S-P sells outside the USA, grew 8% to $491 million.

The anti-allergy medication Nasonex (mometasone) was up 3% to $280 million, while the brain cancer drug Temodar (temozolomide) increased 4% to $242 million. The hepatitis C treatment PegIntron (pegylated interferon) decreased 6% to $225 million, due to lower US sales, while revenues from the antihistamine Clarinex (desloratadine) fell 8% to $160 million.

As for products S-P got hold of through its $16 billion acquisition of Organon, Follistim/Puregon (follitropin beta), a fertility treatment, had sales of $127 million, while the contraceptive Nuvaring contributed $110 million. Animal health sales shot up 33% to $674 million.

Chief executive Fred Hassan was in buoyant mood saying that S-P delivered a very strong performance in 2008 “in the face of intensifying pressures on our industry." He said this was done by “responding quickly and decisively to the fast-changing environment, including taking effective actions to reduce costs and improve productivity”.

He added that despite the challenges facing the industry, “we remain confident about one thing: that innovator companies should continue to do well. We have shown that we are one of those companies." Mr Hassan added that “we are rich in potential first-in-class and best-in-class compounds - and excited that the strength of our innovation is coming through”. With 12 new entities in Phase III or pre-registration, “we believe ours is an industry-leading late-stage pipeline".

He concluded by noting that many of S-P's key drugs should enjoy “long periods of expected exclusivity, with most protected well into the next decade”. At a time when many firms are facing “pipeline droughts and patent cliffs, we believe we're in the sweet spot on product flow and expected exclusivity. This gives us a special edge."