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Novartis earnings drop largely blamed on Lincoln shutdown
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Novartis earnings drop largely blamed on Lincoln shutdown

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The shutdown of its plant east of Lincoln continues to dog Novartis, as the Swiss pharmaceutical company Tuesday reported sharply lower earnings for the first quarter.

Novartis's net income fell 18 percent in the first three months of the year, compared with the first quarter of 2011.

The company said that largely was due to the shutdown of its plant at 10401 U.S Highway 6, which has been closed since mid-December after FDA inspection reports documented problems with pill mixups and an inattentiveness to product complaints.

The plant makes over-the-counter medicines, including Excedrin, Theraflu, Triaminic, Maalox, Lamisil and Benefiber.

Novartis said sales were down 20 percent year over year in its Consumer Health Division, which includes the Lincoln operation, while the division's core operating income fell 83 percent year over year.

Novartis did not update its schedule for resuming production in Lincoln, reiterating its earlier assertion that production and shipments would restart "midyear."

The company said production would restart on a line-by-line, product-by-product basis, with limited shipments going out in the second half of the year.

Novartis also said Tuesday that the Consumer Health division has "engaged third-party manufacturers to bolster supply of select products, which will help meet demands of patients and customers, as well as enable us to regain lost market share."

The company did not say who is doing the manufacturing or which products are being manufactured, and a Novartis spokeswoman declined to give any further information.

Reach Matt Olberding at 402-473-2647 or at molberding@journalstar.com

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