Abbott Laboratories’ second-quarter net earnings dropped 30% on the back of costs relating to its $4.1 billion acquisition of USA-based Guidant's vascular devices business earlier this year, but came in a little better than expected, prompting it to raise its 2006 forecasts.

The firm’s profits were helped by a lower tax rate, although revenues fell marginally to $5.5 billion, mainly because of the termination of a distribution agreement with German drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim for three drugs, including the arthritis treatment Mobic (meloxicam).

Abbott's global pharmaceutical sales rose 8.8% during the quarter, before a 2.2% unfavorable impact from exchange rates, helped by the continued strength of the arthritis product Humira (adalimumab). This product contributed $491 million, up nearly 50% year-on-year, and is on track to make Abbott’s forecast of $1.9 billion in 2006.

But US sales were down nearly 22%, mainly because of the loss of Mobic revenues, while international sales rose a little under 7%.

Among Abbott's other top brands, Depakote (divalproex) for the treatment of manic depression rose 19% to $299 million, while HIV/AIDS drug Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) gained 24% to $118 million, helped by a new tablet formulation in the USA. Abbott expects further sales momentum for this product from the roll-out of this version, which replaces a capsule formulation and requires fewer pills, in Europe.

TriCor (fenofibrate) for the treatment of lipid disorders, licensed from Belgium’s Solvay, put in another strong quarter’s growth, with US sales up 15% to $251 million, although this product is facing the threat of generic competition from Teva.

For the full-year, Abbott now expects earnings per share in the range of $2.49 to $2.53, up from its earlier forecast of $2.44-$2.50.

- Meanwhile, Abbott also announced the submission of the first module of the pre-market approval application for US Food and Drug Administration approval of its Xience V drug-eluting coronary stent. The product is already approved in Europe.