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Swiss drugs giant Novartis posts 15 percent drop in profit

GENEVA (AP) — Swiss pharmaceuticals group Novartis says net income fell 15 percent in the first quarter as it continued to adjust to generic competition for its Gleevec leukemia drug and stopped work on a hoped-for treatment for heart failure.

The Basel-based company said net income dropped to $1.7 billion, compared with $2.01 billion in the year-earlier period. It cited a $200 million charge to discontinue RLX030, which failed to pass tests in trials as a treatment for acute heart failure.

Net sales fell 1 percent to $11.54 billion, offset partially by 136 percent growth for the Cosentyx psoriasis treatment.

CEO Joseph Jimenez cited a “solid start” to 2017.

Novartis predicted sales would be “broadly in line” with 2016, but core operating income could decline in the “low single digit” percentages.

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