Novartis sales up despite franc

NOVARTIS, the Swiss pharmaceuticals group, yesterday reported a first-quarter sales jump despite taking a hit from the strong Swiss franc over the first three months of this year.

Sales at the group, which has just wrapped up its buyout of US eyecare firm Alcon, rose 14 per cent in constant currencies to $14bn (£8.6bn), boosted by strong demand for recently launched drugs such as Gilenya, Lucentis, Afinitor and Tasigna.

Novartis’ operating income was down by three per cent, as the dollar weakened against the Swiss franc.