Swiss pharma giant Novartis posts higher 2020 profit

Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Novartis said Tuesday that its 2020 net profit jumped 13 percent to $8.1 billion after a restructuring saw it hive off its Alcon business.

Sales edged up 3.0 percent to $48.7 billion, the company said in a statement.

Analysts surveyed by Swiss group AWP had forecast sales at around $49.1 billion.

Boss Vas Narasimhan said that despite the challenges posed by Covid-19, the company had put in an “excellent performance” last year.

The pandemic saw sales swing sharply in the first half of 2020 as health services stocked up medicines even as doctor consultations fell.

Government lockdowns to curb the pandemic had a greater impact on some sectors than others, it said, citing opthalmology and dermatology.

Sales at its generic medicines unit Sandoz were down 1.0 percent on the year while the main pharmaceuticals division posted a gain of 3.0 percent, helped by demand for its new cardiac treatments such as Entresto.

Novartis said it expects sales to rise this year in the bottom to the middle of a 1.0-5.0 percent range.