Operating income was USD 2.5 billion (-12%, -5% cc). Core adjustments amounted to USD 0.8 billion (2015: USD 0.9 billion), with product divestment gains partly offset by amortization of the oncology assets acquired from GSK in Pharmaceuticals.
Core operating income was USD 3.3 billion (-11%, -5% cc). Core operating income margin in constant currencies decreased 1.8 percentage points, mainly due to loss of exclusivity on Gleevec, investments behind new launches and the Alcon growth plan. Currency had a negative impact of 0.7 percentage points, resulting in a net decrease of 2.5 percentage points in US dollar terms to 28.1% of net sales.
Pharmaceuticals net sales were USD 7.7 billion (-3%, +1% cc) in the first quarter, with volume growth of 9 percentage points. Generic competition had a negative impact of 6 percentage points and pricing had a negative impact of 2 percentage points, both largely due to Gleevec/Glivec genericization in the US. Growth Products generated USD 3.3 billion or 42% of division net sales. These products grew 31% (cc) over the same period last year. The oncology assets acquired from GSK continued to contribute significantly to sales growth in the quarter, as the prior-year period only included one month of sales (due to closing of the transaction on March 2, 2015). Generic impact on the Ophthalmic Pharmaceuticals products transferred from Alcon, mainly Patanol, negatively impacted Pharmaceuticals sales growth in the quarter.
Sandoz net sales were USD 2.4 billion (0%, +4% cc) in the first quarter, as volume growth of 11 percentage points more than offset 7 percentage points of price erosion. Global sales of Biopharmaceuticals grew 50% (cc) to USD 214 million, benefitting from the launches of Glatopa in June 2015 and Zarxio in September 2015. Anti-Infectives franchise sales were USD 360 million (-3% cc), reflecting the weak flu season compared to the prior year. The mature products transferred from the Pharmaceuticals Division grew versus prior year (cc), benefitting from four products which were part of the oncology assets acquired from GSK.
Alcon net sales were USD 1.4 billion (-7%, -3% cc) in the first quarter. Surgical sales (-3% cc) were driven by a slowdown in cataract equipment placements, as we progress through the launch cycles for Centurion and LenSx. Cataract consumables delivered growth, more than offsetting a slight decline in intraocular lenses (IOLs). Vision Care performance (-4% cc) was impacted by weaker sales of AirOptix and Dailies AquaComfort Plus in the US, despite continued strong sales of Dailies Total1 globally. Contact lens care declined due to competitive pressure and the continued market shift to daily disposable lenses.
Commenting on the results, Joseph Jimenez, CEO of Novartis, said: "I am pleased we were able to show sales growth in constant currencies despite the entry of a generic version of Gleevec in the US. As expected, our results reflect additional investments behind our new launches and Alcon. We are on track with the plan we outlined in January to further focus our divisions, drive greater innovation and significant synergies and productivity. I remain confident in our long-term growth prospects, underpinned by our strong pipeline and the talent leading our Research and Development functions."
Novartis provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, eye care and cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals. Novartis is the only global company with leading positions in these areas. In 2015, the Group achieved net sales of USD 49.4 billion, while R&D throughout the Group amounted to approximately USD 8.9 billion (USD 8.7 billion excluding impairment and amortization charges). Novartis Group companies employ approximately 118,000 full-time-equivalent associates. Novartis products are available in more than 180 countries around the world.