Belgian chemical and pharmaceutical company Solvay posted a 15% increase in second quarter revenue and a strong operating performance across all divisions, but with pharma making a particularly strong contribution.

Group sales rose to 2.39 billion euros, at the top end of analysts' forecasts, while pharmaceutical sales advanced 33% in the second quarter to 487 million euros, driven by the contribution made by cardiovascular drug fenofibrate, acquired along with Fournier last year.

Fenofibrate brought in 229 million euros in the first half of the year, while there was a 33% increase for Androgel testosterone replacement therapy to 141 million euros and Creon pancreatic enzyme replacement product advanced 26% to 96 million euros. However, generic competition to former top product Pantoloc (pantoprazole) for gastrointestinal disorders continued to see its growth cut back by generic competition, posting a 1% rise to 72 million euros.

Earnings before interest and taxes on continuing operations (REBIT) grew 45% to 304 million euros for the group as a whole, while for pharma the division posted a startling 250% increase to 119 million euros, again on the back of fenofibrate.

Solvay said the pharmaceutical division's goals of 7% average annual sales growth and an operating margin of 20% by 2010 were "well on their way to being realised."

Meanwhile, looking at its product pipeline, Solvay said it had just filed for approval in Europe of Synordia (fenofibrate plus metformin) and has a next-generation product – ABT335/Hexa – in Phase III testing. It is also developing a combination fenofibrate/statin product.

Solvay also intends to file for approval of bifeprunox for schizophrenia in the USA in the third quarter, and has also submitted a dossier for a controlled-release formulation of the antidepressant fluvoxamine that has been accepted by the Food and Drug Administration.

The chemicals division saw a 10% increase in revenues to 1.51 billion euros, with REBIT advancing 6% to 172 million euros.