ZURICH: Swiss pharma giant Novartis reported Tuesday higher profits in the first half of the year despite the coronavirus pandemic causing swings in sales.
During the first six months of the year net profit came in at $4 billion (3.5 billion euros), a 9 percent increase when currency fluctuations are stripped out.
Sales rose by 6 percent from the same period last year to $23.6 billion.
But the half-year figures obscure considerable swings in sales and profits due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
If sales rose by 11 percent in the first quarter as clients stocked up on medicines when the virus began to spread around the world, sales dipped by 1 percent in the second quarter.
"During the second quarter, COVID-19 had an impact on our business with forward purchasing from the first quarter largely reversing," the company said in a statement.
Lockdowns and the focus of medical systems on treating coronavirus and urgent patients also had an impact on the sales of certain treatments.
"Sales were mostly affected by lower new patient starts and significant reduction in patient visits to physicians," said Novartis.
There was also a similar evolution in quarterly earnings, with a 16 percent gain in net profit during the first three months turning into a 4 percent drop in the second quarter.
Novartis said it expects mid single digit sales growth for the year, with a low double digit gain in its measure of core operating income. Over the first half of the year, core operating income rose by 19 percent.