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Lilly feels effects of Cymbalta competition

Revenues down by 2 per cent for fourth quarter of 2013
Eli Lilly HQ

Lilly saw its revenues slide 2 per cent in the fourth quarter to $5.8bn, bearing up fairly well in the face of a hefty decline in sales of antidepressant Cymbalta.

Cymbalta (duloxetine) remained Lilly's top-selling drug in the quarter but slumped 38 per cent to $883m after losing US patent protection in December. Offsetting the decline, lung cancer therapy Alimta (pemetrexed) rose 6 per cent to $726m, while insulin products Humalog and Humulin both performed well, respectively up 19 per cent to $734m and 8 per cent to $370m.

Chief executive John Lechleiter noted that the impact of generic competition to Cymbalta in the US would be felt particularly hard in 2014 and - coupled with the patent expiry on breast cancer and osteoporosis drug Evista (raloxifene) in March this year - this would result in "a substantial decline in revenue and earnings in 2014."

In the fourth quarter net earnings fell 12 per cent to $728m as Lilly's other products struggled to plug the gap left by Cymbalta and older off-patent drugs such as antipsychotic Zyprexa (olanzapine), which fell 10 per cent to $348m.

Evista gained 14 per cent to $278m but is expected to tail off sharply once its US patent expires. On the plus side, another osteoporosis therapy - Forteo (teriparatide) - rose by the same margin to reach $360m in the quarter, while erectile dysfunction drug Cialis (tadalafil) was up 15 per cent to $588m and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drug Strattera (atomoxetine) brought in $201m, up 23 per cent.

Lilly is banking on its pipeline providing a stream of new products to help build revenues in the coming years, but has suffered a number of late-stage setbacks of late and added another two to that tally in the fourth quarter.

Cymbalta follow-up edivoxetine failed to meet its objectives in phase III trials as an adjunctive therapy for major depression towards the end of last year and has been discontinued, while Lilly also confirmed that it has also dropped liprotamase, an enzyme replacement therapy for pancreatic disorders.

Lechleiter highlighted four new product submissions made by Lilly in the last few months - along with a number of licensing and acquisition deals that is reminiscent of AstraZeneca's approach to its patent cliff - as the key to returning Lilly to growth.

The new filings include a biosimilar version of Sanofi's big-selling Lantus (insulin glargine) for diabetes - which prompted an immediate lawsuit from the drug's originator - along with diabetes therapies dulaglutide and empagliflozin and ramucirumab for gastric cancer.

Lilly also has eight projects in phase III, including tanezumab for pain which was added to the pipeline following a recent collaboration with Pfizer.

Article by
Thomas Meek

3rd February 2014

From: Sales

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