Novartis posts 3Q profits in line with a year ago


GENEVA -- Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG has posted third-quarter profits virtually unchanged from the comparable period a year ago.

The Basel-based company says it had profits of 2.48 billion Swiss francs ($2.65 billion) between July and September, compared with $2.49 billion in the third quarter of 2011.

Novartis said in a statement Thursday before the opening of the Zurich exchange that its recent product launches had offset patent expirations such as hypertension drug Diovan, which faces generic competition in the United States.

Chief Executive Joseph Jimenez said "pharmaceuticals had another solid quarter" bolstered by approvals for Afinitor for treating advanced breast cancer, which the company expects to help push sales of the drug above the $1 billion mark.