In the Innovative Medicines Division in 2018, key products continued to see strong growth. Net sales of USD 34.9 billion grew 8% (cc) from the prior year. Both business units contributed to growth. Net sales in Novartis Pharmaceuticals were USD 21.5 billion, up 7% (cc) from 2017, driven by increases for Cosentyx, our treatment for psoriasis and other autoimmune diseases, and Entresto, our heart failure treatment. Net sales in Novartis Oncology were USD 13.4 billion, up 9% (cc) from 2017, driven by Promacta/Revolade and Jakavi, treatments for blood disorders and cancers; Tafinlar + Mekinist, a combination therapy for skin and lung cancers; and products from Advanced Accelerator Applications, such as Lutathera, a radioligand therapy for a rare type of cancer in the pancreas or gut. Core operating income was USD 11.2 billion, up 11% (cc) thanks to higher sales and improved gross margin, which more than offset higher spending on product launches.
Sandoz had net sales of USD 9.9 billion, down 3% (cc), due to continued intense pressure on prices for generic medicines industrywide in the US. A bright spot continued to be biopharmaceuticals, including biosimilars, with sales of USD 1.4 billion, up 24% (cc). Core operating income was USD 2.0 billion, down 3% (cc), mainly due to lower sales and higher marketing investments outside the US – although Sandoz continued to drive improvement in gross margin.
Alcon net sales rose 5% (cc) to USD 7.1 billion, mainly driven by intraocular lenses and supplies for cataract surgery, and Dailies Total1 advanced contact lenses. Sales in the Surgical business grew 7% (cc), while sales of Vision Care products grew 3% (cc). Core operating income of USD 1.3 billion rose 10% (cc), mainly due to higher sales and improved gross margin, which more than offset increased investment in marketing and sales.