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Novartis profits dip as generic rival challenges cancer drug

GENEVA – Swiss pharmaceuticals titan Novartis says net income from continued operations fell 13 per cent in the first quarter as generic competition cut into sales of Gleevec, one of the first very effective cancer medicines.

The Basel-based company said Thursday that net income from continuing operations declined to $2.01 billion from $2.31 billion a year earlier. Sales dipped 3 per cent to $11.6 billion.

Novartis noted the start of sales of a U.S. generic version of Gleevec — which had cost around $10,000 per month — in February.

Overall, Novartis reported net income fell 85 per cent from $13 billion last year, which included the impact of a shake-up in its business with an acquisition of oncology and consumer health-care assets from GSK and the divestment of its vaccines and animal health businesses.