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Lilly: 2014 will be "most financially challenging year"

Company still to feel worst effects of patent expiries
Eli Lilly HQ

The patent cliff is still far from over for Lilly according to the company's chief financial officer who said this year will be the toughest yet for the company.

"We expect 2014 to be the most financially challenging year of Lilly's current period of patent expirations," said Derica Rice, who has been head of the company's financial operations since 2006.

Whereas other major companies, such as Sanofi and Pfizer, have already faced the loss of patent protection for their biggest products – opening the market up to cheaper generic competition – Lilly is still to feel the full impact of this challenging time for the pharma industry.

Rice singled out Lilly's depression treatment Cymbalta (duloxetine) and osteoporosis treatment Evista (raloxifene) as the two drugs of most concern for the company.

Cymbalta is currently the company's top-selling drug, taking in $4.2bn in the first nine months of 2013, but revenues are set to decline massively after losing patent protection in December last year.

With sales of $775m in the first nine months of 2013, the loss of patent protection for Evista won't be quite as devastating, although Lilly will still be hit hard when the drug loses US protection in March this year.

Despite this, the company was still optimistic in its financial guidance for 2014, which reconfirms 2013 expectations that anticipate revenues for the year to be between $19.2bn and $19.8bn.

This would continue a path of revenue decline for the company, with Lilly recording total revenues of $24.2bn in 2011, $22.6bn in 2012 and $17.3bn for the first nine months of 2013, although CEO Dr John Lechleiter was confident of a return to growth in 2015.

This is spearheaded by a pipeline that includes 13 potential new medicine sin phase III and 26 more in phase II.

“We anticipate obtaining regulatory approvals for and successfully launching multiple products each year for the next few years,” said Dr Lechleiter. “At the same time, we aim to sustain strong performance for our currently marketed brands and key growth areas.”

The CEO also commented on the company's efficiency moves, such as the decision last year to cut a third of its sales reps n the US.

“We believe our strategy is the right one for Lilly and one that will continue to create value for all of our stakeholders,” said Dr Lechleiter.

Article by
Thomas Meek

8th January 2014

From: Sales

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