Sales of Novartis' vision care products rose by 10 percent to $630 million in the second quarter driven by double-digit growth registered by Ciba Vision's AirOptix contact lenses. At constant currency rates, the division's sales rose by 2 percent.

Contact lens sales rose by 13 percent to $440 million but were impacted by the discontinuation of the company's specialty contact lens business. On a currency-neutral basis, contact lens revenues increased by 4 percent.

Sales of lens contact solutions and other care products were up by 4 percent to $190 million as wider use of hydrogen peroxide products more than offset weakness in multi-purpose solutions. But at constant currency rates, turnover was down by 2 percent.

The vision care division, which includes Ciba Vision, is part of the group's Alcon unit, which comprises two other divisions: surgical and ophthalmic pharmaceuticals. Novartis completed the takeover of Alcon on April 8. It integrated Ciba Vision into Alcon, then Alcon into Novartis. The restructured Alcon unit became operational on July 1.

Sales of ophthalmic products rose by 12 percent to $1,068 million, or 8 percent at constant currency rates, dampened by a weak allergy season compared with the previous year. Among the division's product lines, revenues from glaucoma products rose by 16 percent, or by 9 percent on a neutral currency basis, to $334 million, driven by DuoTrav and Azarga, which booked a combined growth of 56 percent, or by 40 percent at constant currencies, as well as a solid performance by the Travatan and Travatan Z ophthalmic solutions.

Infection and inflammation products rose by 23 percent, or by 18 percent at constant currencies, to $261 million lifted by market share gains for the Nevanac ophthalmic suspension and a solid performance of the Durezol ophthalmic suspension. Sales were supported by the launch during the quarter of the anti-infective Moxeza ophthalmic solution in the U.S. and formulations of Travatan and DuoTrav ophthalmic solutions without benzalkonium chloride in the EU.

Sales of dry eye and other products were up by 12 percent, or by 7 percent at constant currencies, to $207 million led by Systane and the new Systane Balance dry eye products.

The surgical division increased sales by 13 percent to $927 million, lifted by strong growth in emerging markets. At constant foreign exchange rates, growth reached 6 percent.

Global sales of intraocular lenses rose by 17 percent, up by 13 percent at constant currency rates, mostly due to increased adoption by cataract surgeons of the AcrySof IQ Toric and AcrySof IQ ReSTOR+3.0 products. Sales of AcrySof IQ ReSTOR Toric intraocular lenses, which are currently available only outside the U.S., contributed to faster growth in advanced technology lenses in non-American markets.

The trend toward intraocular lens adoption is important to offset pricing pressure in the monofocal segment arising primarily from government reimbursement changes. The Constellation vitreoretinal surgical system contributed to sales growth with an increase of 54 percent, up by 44 percent at constant currencies. In the refractive segment, growth was driven by sales of FS200 and EX500 equipment and increased market share in the U.S.

Sales of cataract products rose to $746 million from $683 million and intraocular lenses were $336 million from $311 million. Revenues from vitreoretinal products reached $131 million against $109 million and refractive and other products $50 million compared with $31 million.

Overall sales for Alcon rose by 12 percent to €2,625 million in the second quarter from a pro forma $2,346 million. At constant currency rates, sales rose by 6 percent. The operating margin slipped to 14.1 percent from 15.6 percent. Growth in sales was led by Russia, India and China.

During the quarter, the group prevailed in an American patent infringement lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana regarding Patanol, a prescription eyedrop for allergic conjunctivitis. The ruling will help Alcon defend its intellectual property rights ahead of Patanol's patent expiration in 2015.

As part of the group's manufacturing restructuring plan, Novartis will exit the Ciba Vision production site in Cidra, Puerto Rico.

Novartis' quarterly group sales rose by 27 percent to $14,915 million; the operating and net income were both up by 12 percent to $3,322 million and $2,726 million respectively. The free cash flow totalled $3,297 million, up from $2,368 million.

The company noted that with a cash generation of about $1,000 million a month it could rapidly be in a position to acquire assets, despite a net debt of $21,900 million at the end of June, to reinforce the businesses that are undersized, especially the over-the-counter drug and animal health activities.