The Dutch chemicals group, one of Europe's top three ingredient suppliers to drug makers, blamed low prices for penicillin and its derivatives in combination with the weak US dollar.
DSM Pharmaceutical Products, which makes intermediates and active ingredients as well as biotech products, offered partial compensation, performing above the Q3 2003 and Q2 2004 levels, said the group.
Although sales in its life science cluster increased overall by 2 per cent to €490 million compared to Q3 of 2003, this increase was attributed to the net effect of higher-priced intra-Group supplies as a result of an increase in raw material prices and higher sales volumes at DSM's Food Specialties.
DSM's results continue its run of mixed fortunes, which has seen the company shed jobs as a result of restructuring and attrition. DSM's pharmaceutical products and DSM nutritional products have been most affected.
Its second quarter results of 2003 saw sales down 4 per cent mainly due to lower prices and exchange rate developments at DSM Anti-Infectives.
This business, the world's largest producer of active ingredients and intermediates for use in antibiotics, was responsible for a 52 per cent drop in Life Sciences operating profit compared to the previous year's same period.
Overall the group reported an operating profit of €133 million, up by more than €100 million from Q3 2003 and equal to Q2 2004.
Third quarter sales remained level with the previous quarter at €1.94 billion, with Nutritional Products adding 36 per cent to sales.