Abbott Laboratories has posted strong third-quarter sales at its pharmaceuticals division, driven again by the performance of its anti-inflammatory blockbuster Humira, though earnings fell on restructuring costs.

Net income was down 39.8% to $891 million, hit by charges of $513 million, associated primarily with the acquisition of Solvay Pharmaceuticals and cost reduction initiatives, The figure also includes $70 million for costs of a recall of Similac baby formula and the withdrawal in Europe of the obesity drug Meridia (sibutramine), plus $158 million for impairment of the intangible asset related to the controversial treatment which has just been pulled from the US market.

Group sales were up 11.8% to $8.68 billion, while pharmaceutical revenues climbed 21.7% to $4.94 billion. Humira (adalimumab), which is approved for indications covering rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and psoriasis, climbed 12.6% to $1.68 billion.

As for the company’s lipids franchise, TriCor (fenofibrate) and TriLipix (fenofibric acid) contributed $404 million, up 22.1%, while Niaspan (niacin) brought in $225 million, a rise of 4.7%. Of Abbott’s other products, the prostate cancer therapy Lupron (leuprolide) fell 3.3% to $189 million, while revenues from the HIV drug Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) plunged 7.2% to $328 million. Sales of the hypothyroid medication Synthroid (levothyroxine) were up 6.9% to $143 million.

Miles White, Abbott chief executive, was pleased with the results, noting that "during the quarter, we announced an agreement to expand our pharmaceutical pipeline with an attractive late-stage asset for the treatment of chronic kidney disease", Reata Pharmaceuticals' bardoxolone. In addition, Abbott completed the acquisition of Piramal's Healthcare Solutions business and finalised the integration planning for the Solvay unit.

Mr White added that "the strategic actions we've taken across our global businesses position us well in high-growth emerging markets as well as promising new therapeutic areas." Abbott raised the lower end of its annual earnings guidance to $4.16-$4.18 per share excluding one-time costs, from a previous forecast of $4.13-$4.18.