Schering-Plough ( SGP) swung to a second-quarter profit, as sales rose a stronger-than-expected 11%.

The Kenilworth, N.J., drug maker made $259 million, or 16 cents a share, for the quarter ended June 30. That reverses the year-ago loss of $48 million, or a nickel a share. Sales rose to $2.82 billion from $2.53 billion.

Excluding a restructuring charge, latest-quarter earnings were 25 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for a 17-cent profit on sales of $2.65 billion.

On an adjusted basis, including results of a cholesterol drug joint venture with Merck ( MRK), latest-quarter sales rose 18% from a year ago to $3.3 billion.

CEO Fred Hassan said there is currently a disproportionate short-term focus on cost reduction and that this is not always in the best interests of patients. "In the long term, successful health care organizations will be those that focus on and compete based on improving the health of their member patients," he said. "An approach that makes meeting health goals a priority offers a better opportunity to improve people's health and quality of life while also improving the long-term effectiveness of the health care system."

Hassan said certain key metrics should be made widely available on a comparable basis to allow potential enrollees and employers to assess the effectiveness of various competing health plans. These include looking at the percentage of enrollees who are at their goals in: control of high blood pressure; control of hemoglobin A1c (an important indicator of long-term blood glucose control for diabetic patients); control of high LDL cholesterol; immunizations; and, finally, metrics for various plans for obesity, exercise and smoking via health promotion programs.