Abbott Laboratories has posted a net income rise of 34% for the second quarter to $1.32 billion, driven by the continuing success of the firm’s anti-inflammatory blockbuster Humira.

Total sales rose 14.8% to $7.31 billion and pharmaceuticals were up 16.7% to $4.12 billion, dominated by the stellar performance came from Humira (adalimumab), which is approved for six indications in the USA, ranging from rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and psoriasis.

Sales of the treatment leapt 48.1% to $1.09 billion, which included 71.3% growth outside the USA, boosted by an approval from the Japanese regulatory authorities to market the drug, along with partner Eisai, for RA. Abbott said that it was lifting its full-year sales guidance on Humira from $4 billion to $4.3 billion.

Of the firm’s other products, the migraine drug Depakote (divalproex sodium) was up just 2.4% to $414 million but the HIV drug Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) jumped 12.7% to $355 million. As for its lipids franchise, TriCor (fenofibrate) inched up 1.7% to $307 million, while Niaspan (niacin) brought in $194 million, up 13.9%.

Abbott chief executive Miles White said the firm had achieved another quarter of strong performance “across our diverse mix of global businesses, with particularly strong results internationally". Sales from its nutritional unit were up 12.6% to $1.24 billion, while diagnostics rose 17.2% to $936 million.

Things are looking good for Abbott and the company raised its full-year earnings guidance to $3.24-$3.28 per share from an initial forecast of $3.20-$3.25. It also confirmed its expectation for continued double-digit earnings per share growth in 2009.

The results topped analysts forecasts and the brokers were impressed. Lawrence Keusch at Goldman Sachs said that with Humira and the recent launch of the Xience V drug-coated stent, “we believe that the second half should continue to show strong results".

Charles Butler at Lehman Brothers noted that Abbott will benefit from the US Food and Drug Administration's recent rejection of Merck & Co’s Cordaptive, which is similar to Niaspan but is designed to avoid flushing, a common side-effect of the latter. He said that the FDA's decision "effectively removes the competition for Abbott in the niacin-containing products space for the foreseeable future," at least in the USA. However the Merck drug has just been approved in Europe under the brand name Tredaptive.