Net profit jumped by 49 percent from the same period last year to $2.9 billion (2.4 billion euros), which the company said was due to lower financial charges.
Net sales came in at $13 billion in the quarter that ran from March through June, a nine percent gain when currency variations were stripped out.
Increases in volumes would have implied a 13 percent sales gain, but reduced prices and increased competition from generics reduced this figure to nine percent.
Of that, Novartis estimates four percentage points came from clients stocking up after cutting back orders last year at the height of the pandemic.
While pharmaceutical companies might at first glance be expected to benefit from the pandemic, companies like Novartis saw sales drop last year as many hospitals and patients delayed normal treatments amid the first wave Covid-19.
Novartis said it continues to feel this effect.
“While demand is starting to return to pre-Covid-19 levels in most geographies and therapeutic areas, we still see a slight impact on parts of our business for example in oncology, generics and certain geographies,” the company said in a statement.
“We are assuming further easing of Covid-19 restrictions in the second half of the year with a positive impact on business dynamics,” it added.
Chief financial officer Harry Kirsch said sales had returned 80 to 90 percent of their pre-pandemic levels.
In the first six months of the year, the company’s increase in sales was less marked, at three percent.
Novartis left unchanged its forecast for an increase in sales of one to five percent for 2021 as a whole.
Shares in Novartis rose by 2 percent in early morning trading, but gave up much of those gains to stand up 0.9 percent in midday trading, whereas the Swiss Market Index was up 0.8 percent. © Agence France-Presse