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Finnish drugmaker Orion first-quarter profit beats forecast

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HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finnish drug manufacturer Orion reported a smaller than expected fall in quarterly profit on Tuesday as cost cuts cushioned the drop in sales as last year's pandemic uplift faded.

Orion's January-March operating profit fell 11% from a year earlier to 75 million euros ($90 million), but beat the average analyst forecast of 64.9 million according to Refinitiv data.

"The change is mostly explained by the very high sales volume induced by the COVID-19 pandemic early last year and the fact that products with above-average margins, such as Dexdor and Simdax, accounted for a considerable share of those sales," Chief Executive Timo Lappalainen said in a statement.

Lappalainen said the results were boosted by a good quarter from the Specialty Products unit, which makes generic (off-patent) prescription drugs and personal-care products.

Orion repeated its forecast for weaker 2021 sales and profit as the pandemic boost to drug sales fades, and said it saw no harm from possible global supply and logistics chain disruptions this year.

"To our current knowledge, no disruptions or shortages are expected to affect the outlook for the rest of 2021," Lappalainen said.

($1 = 0.8293 euros)

(Reporting by Tarmo Virki, editing by Louise Heavens)