Schering-Plough reports higher drug sales

Boosted by double-digit gains in five drugs beyond its cholesterol joint venture, Schering-Plough posted a 62% increase in fourth-quarter profit. The company recorded net income of $204 million, or 12 cents a share, up from $126 million, or seven cents a share, a year earlier. Sales rose 14% to $2.65 billion, beating the average analyst estimate of $2.5 billion. Figures show Schering-Plough is performing well across several businesses. Cholesterol drugs Vytorin and Zetia, jointly marketed with Merck, jumped 47% to $1.11 billion. Equity income from the venture rose 50% to $403 million from $268 million. Sales of arthritis drug Remicade, which Schering-Plough markets ex-US, increased 34% to $337 million. Worldwide sales of allergy drug rose Nasonex rose 37% to $253 million, with US sales up 48%. Sales of Temodar, a treatment for brain tumors, climbed 18% to $189 million, while sales of allergy treatment Clarinex rose 18% to $164 million. Sales of heart medication Integrilin increased 20% to $85 million. Sales of the Peg-Intron hepatitis C product slid 3% to $208 million due primarily to a drop in sales in Japan. Under third-year Chief Executive Fred Hassan, Schering-Plough has upped R&D spending 33% to $631 million, from $474 million a year ago. But analysts say Hassan will face increasing pressure to diversify the revenue base with new products and possibly an acquisition.