Merck KGaA has posted a reasonable set of figures for the second quarter, driven by cost-cutting and continued growth for its multiple sclerosis blockbuster Rebif.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation and one-time items rose 10.7% to 826 million euros, while revenues slipped 0.4% to 2.84 billion euros. Sales at the Merck Serono drugs unit fell 1.0% to 1.53 billion euros.

In terms of organic growth, Rebif (interferon beta-1a) was up 3.5% to 499 million euros, while the colorectal/head and neck cancer drug Erbitux (cetuximab) slipped 0.5% to 215 million euros. The fertility drug Gonal-f (follitropin) was down 1.0% to 156 million euros. Merck's Glucophage (metformin) diabetes products was down 6.5% to 100 million euros, while the beta blocker Concor (bisoprolol) franchise climbed 9.5% to 104 million euros. The growth hormone treatment Saizen (somatropin) decreased 3.2% to 61 million euros.

Merck chairman Karl-Ludwig Kley was pleased with the firm's solid business performance "in a more difficult market environment". The company is undergoing a major reorganisation and he said that its 'Fit for 2018' efficiency programme "is producing excellent results" and confirmed EBITDA guidance before one-off items for the full year of 3.1-3.2 billion euros "despite currency headwinds".