Schering-Plough Corp. on Monday reported quarterly earnings far higher than Wall Street expected, fueled by growing demand for its drugs against cholesterol, arthritis, allergies and hepatitis C.

The company earned $237 million, or 16 cents per share. That compared with a loss of $70 million, or 5 cents per share, in the 2005 period - when the Kenilworth, New Jersey-based drugmaker took charges for legal reserves for government probes.

Excluding special items, the drugmaker earned 25 cents per share. Analysts, on average, expected 17 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Global sales, which officially do not include cholesterol drugs Zetia and Vytorin co-marketed under a joint venture with Merck & Co. (MRK.N: Quote, Profile, Research), rose 11 percent to $2.8 billion. That handily topped analyst sales forecasts of $2.63 billion.

Including its 50 percent share of revenue from the cholesterol treatments, Schering-Plough sales jumped 18 percent to $3.3 billion.

Sales of Remicade, a treatment for arthritis and Crohn's disease which the company sells outside the United States, rose 31 percent to $307 million.

The company's inhaled allergy drug Nasonex saw sales rise 21 percent to $242 million - putting it on track to become a blockbuster drug after an enhanced marketing push by company Chief Executive Officer Fred Hassan.

Revenue from Peg-Intron, an injectable drug for patients infected with the liver-damaging hepatitis C virus, rose 25 percent to $226 million. Its growth was driven by widening use in Japan, although the company cautioned the sales in the second half of the year will be lower than the first half as new patient enrollment there moderates.

Shares of Schering-Plough have fallen 6.7 percent so far this year, compared with a gain of 4.5 percent for the American Stock Exchange Pharmaceutical Index of large U.S. and European drugmakers.