Schering-Plough Corp , which Merck & Co is in the process of acquiring, reported higher-than expected first-quarter earnings on Tuesday as the drugmaker cut costs.

Profit almost tripled to $767 million, or 46 cents per share, from $276 million, or 17 cents per share, a year earlier, when the company booked charges from its purchase of Organon BioSciences.

Excluding special items, Schering-Plough earned 56 cents per share. Analysts on average expected 47 cents, according to Reuters Estimates.

Quarterly revenue fell 6 percent to $4.39 billion.

The company, which derives 70 percent of its sales from overseas, said revenue would have been 10 percentage points higher if not for the stronger dollar. A strong dollar lowers the value of overseas sales when converted back into U.S. currency.

Combined revenue of Zetia and Vytorin, cholesterol drugs Schering-Plough sells in partnership with Merck, fell 21 percent to $973 million, continuing to suffer from data from clinical trials that questioned their safety and effectiveness.

(Reporting by Ransdell Pierson; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)