The consumer health division of Novartis, which includes CIBA Vision, had a drop in revenues of 11 percent for the first quarter to $1,303 million. In local currencies this was actually an increase of 1 percent. CIBA Vision improved on the momentum of new contact lens products, the company said.

The operating income of the consumer health division fell by 10 percent to $235 million ? without currency effects, there would have been a gain of 9 percent, however. Novartis noted that CIBA Vision achieved productivity gains, and the segment overall had a higher gross margin.

Within the consumer health division, sales in Europe fell by 18 percent to $587 million, but in constant currencies they were flat. In the Asia-Africa-Australasia region, divisional sales were down by 7 percent in dollars and by 1 percent in constant currencies, down to $194 million. The U.S. saw flat sales, or a 1 percent gain in constant currencies, to $421 million. In Canada and Latin America, a 15 percent drop to $101 million would have been a 5 percent increase at constant rates.

The stronger dollar caused the entire Novartis group to suffer a 2 percent drop in total revenues to $9.7 billion, although they grew by 8 percent in local currencies. Large outlays for the acquisition of a major stake in Alcon contributed to a reduction in the Swiss group's net profit of 14 percent to a level of just below €2 billion. Financial analysts had expected a worse performance.