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Cardinal Health quarterly profit ahead of estimates

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May 1 (Reuters) - Cardinal Health Inc reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by strong performance in its medical unit even as the drug distributor continues to face declining generic drug prices.

Cardinal's results come nearly two weeks after the drug distributor said it expected full-year adjusted earnings at the lower end of its forecast, underscoring the U.S. drug distribution industry's struggles with falling generic drug prices.

Net earnings attributable to the company fell marginally to $381 million, or $1.20 per share, in the third quarter ended March 31, from $386 million, or $1.17 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned $1.53 per share, beating analysts' average estimate of $1.46, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Cardinal Health, which also makes surgical apparel and gloves, said last month it would add heft to its growing medical products business through a $6.1 billion deal for Medtronic Plc's medical supplies units.

Cardinal Health, which reaffirmed its fiscal 2017 forecast, said quarterly revenue rose 3.8 percent to $31.82 billion, below analysts' estimate of $32.30 billion. (Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Supriya Kurane)