Net profits at Solvay advanced 6% to 181 million euros in the third quarter, although revenues declined in its pharmaceuticals division on the back of the loss of marketing rights for gastrointestinal drug Pantoloc.

The 4% dip in pharma revenues to 614 million euros was offset by a 9% rise for chemicals and a 10% hike for Solvay’s plastics business, said the Belgian company.

The loss of marketing rights for Pantoloc (pantoprazole) in Canada in May of this year removed the contribution of a product that added 44 million euros to third-quarter 2005 revenues, said Solvay, and masked the good contribution from its other pharmaceutical products, notably the cholesterol-lowering franchise based on fenofibrate.

Without the Pantoloc effect, sales from the primary products of Solvay Pharmaceuticals were up ‘significantly’, said the company, with fenofibrate sales contributing 323 million euros in the first nine months of the year. The pharma unit posted third quarter operating profit of 122 million euros, up 3% year-on-year, said Solvay.

"Overall for 2006, the results and margins for Solvay Pharmaceuticals will be significantly up compared to 2005, with an operational margin of about 17%, said Solvay.

The development of next generation fenofibrate products, particularly fixed-dose combination products, and recently-filed antipsychotic bifeprunox, will be critical in the transformation of the pharmaceutical business in coming years.