Novartis has posted a set of rather lukewarm results for the second-quarter, with net income dragged down 32% to $1.86 billion by a strong US dollar and a disappointing revenues from eye care unit Alcon.

Group sales dipped 5% for the period to $12.7 billion, although taking currency effects out of the equation they were up 6% over last year’s figure.

Taking a closer look, pharmaceuticals net sales came in at $7.8 billion, marking a 4% drop on a year ago or a 6% rise at constant exchange rates (CER), as revenues from new oncology assets acquired from GSK were partly offset by generic competition.

Also driving growth in the division (at CER) were: multiple sclerosis pill Gilenya (fingolimod), up 26% to $700 million; leukaemia drug Tasigna (nilotinib), which jumped 21% to $412 million; cancer drug Afinitor (everolimus), climbing 19% to $423 million; and Jakavi (ruxolitinib), for myelofibrosis and polycythemia vera, up 68% at $98 million.

Generics arm Sandoz also turned in a particularly good result, with sales climbing 2%, or 11% at CER, because of solid volume growth and new product launches during the second quarter.

But, on the downside, turnover from Alcon fell 9% (remaining flat at CER), mainly because of lower surgical equipment sales, competitive pressures, and an accelerated contact lens care decline, the Swiss drug giant said.

Guidance unchanged

All-in-all, taking into account Alcon’s lacklustre performance and the star result from Sandoz, Novartis said its full-year outlook remains unchanged, with a sales hike in the mid-single digit range and operating profit growth around the high-single-digit mark.

Looking further ahead, the drugmaker seems confident in its growth potential, with hopes largely pinned on two recently approved potential blockbusters - heart failure drug Entresto (sacubitril/valsartan), which is expected to pull in peak sales upwards of $5 billion, and psoriasis treatment Cosentyx (secukinumab), which could overshoot the billion-dollar-mark in five or so years, according to some analysts.

Neupogen biosimilar blocked 

Meanwhile, Novartis was dealt a blow by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit which ruled that its biosimilar of Amgen’s blockbuster Neupogen (filgrastim) can’t be marketed until September because of patent infringement.

Zarxio (filgrastim-sndz) became the first biosimilar approved by the US Food and Drug Administration back in March this year, for the same indications as Neupogen.