Ranbaxy Laboratories has posted a slump in earnings for the first quarter, compared with the like, year-earlier period when it reaped the benefits of having exclusivity to sell a generic version of the blockbuster cholesterol-lowerer Lipitor in the USA.

Net income at the Indian drugmaker fell 90% to 1.26 billion rupees, about $23.3 million, compared with 12.47 billion rupees in the first quarter of 2012. Sales came in at 24.40 billion rupees, a decline of 34.2%.

Ranbaxy, which is majority-owned by Daiichi Sankyo, noted that sales in North America slumped because of the aforementioned matter of generic Lipitor (atorvastatin), while turnover was down 18% in western Europe. However, turnover from Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States was up 15%, while the Indian market (including Sri Lanka) accounted for 5.43 billion rupees, up 11%. Africa and the Middle East rose 23% to 2.98 billion rupees.

Arun Sawhney, Ranbaxy's chief executive, noted that in the USA, it is benefiting from strong growth for Absorica, a patented brand formulation of the acne medication isotretinoin and it expects to see strong sales of a generic version of Pfizer's antidepressant Pristiq (desvenlafaxine). He added that "we also continued to work towards optimising overheads and other expenses".