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* Net profit 12.5 bln rupees vs est 8.7 bln rupees
* North America sales more than double to 20.9 bln rupees
* Reports forex gain of 3.45 bln rupees
* Share rise more than 4.5 pct
May 9 (Reuters) - Ranbaxy Laboratories, India’s top drugmaker by sales, reported a four-fold rise in quarterly net profit, helped by sales of its generic version of cholesterol drug Lipitor in its key U.S. market, sending its shares up more than 4.5 percent.
The drugmaker, majority owned by Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo Co , said net profit rose to 12.47 billion rupees ($234.3 million) in January-March from 3.04 billion rupees a year earlier. It earned 3.45 billion rupees in foreign exchange gains.
Analysts expected net profit of 8.7 billion rupees, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Sales in the north American market more than doubled to 20.93 billion rupees in the period, the first full quarter of sales of its copycat version of blockbuster Lipitor.
Ranbaxy launched the generic in December 2011 in the United States followed by European markets.
Other than the innovator Pfizer, Ranbaxy and Watson Pharmaceuticals are the only two drugmakers allowed to sell generic Lipitor in the United States until May 31.
Efforts to improve effectiveness and efficiency are expected to further improve the company’s base business in coming quarters, Chief Executive Arun Sawhney said in a statement.
Earlier this year, Ranbaxy settled a long-running compliance related dispute with the U.S Food and Drug Administration and agreed to appoint an external auditor to inspect its manufacturing units for quality checks.
It started shipping products from one of its Indian manufacturing units to the United States i n April, ending a 2009 ban by the U.S. authorities.
Shares of the company were 4 percent higher at 512.20 rupees at 3:19 p.m. (0949 GMT) in a Mumbai market that was down 0.5 percent.
$1 = 53.2 rupees Reporting by Kaustubh Kulkarni in MUMBAI; Editing by Aradhana Aravindan