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Plavix generics weigh heavy on BMS in second quarter

Net sales down 18 per cent

As expected, generic competition to top-selling antiplatelet drug Plavix and other key products dragged down revenues and profits at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) in the second quarter.

The pharma company reported net sales down 18 per cent to $4.4bn, thanks to the loss of patent protection for Plavix (clopidogrel) and blood pressure drugs Avapro (irbesartan) and Avalide (irbesartan/hydrochlorothiazide) in the US since the start of the year, while net income fell 29 per cent to $645m.

As a result, the company cut its 2012 earnings forecasts from $1.90-$2.00 per share to $1.78-$1.88.

Chief executive Lambert Andreotti put a positive spin on the figures, noting that if these products are excluded, growth year-on-year for the rest of the firm's portfolio was a healthy 8 per cent.

"We have been preparing for the expected loss of exclusivity of Plavix and Avapro/Avalide for a number of years," he said, noting that BMS' $7bn purchase of diabetes specialist Amylin and expansion of its collaboration with AstraZeneca would help the company recover.

Plavix sales plummeted 60 per cent to $741m from nearly $1.9bn a year ago, with Avapro/Avalide falling 53 per cent to $117m, while schizophrenia and bipolar depression treatment Abilify (aripiprazole) managed a modest 1 per cent gain to $711m.

On a brighter note, most of BMS' other key products posted solid gains. Hepatitis treatment Baraclude (entecavir) grew 22 per cent to $357m in the quarter, while HIV drugs Reyataz (atazanavir) and Sustiva (efavirenz) rose 3 per cent to $406m and 5 per cent to $388m, respectively.

A crop of more recently-launched products also showed strong gains, with Yervoy (ipilimumab) for melanoma advancing 71 per cent to $162m, prostate cancer drug Sprycel (dasatinib) coming in at $244m, up 26 per cent, while arthritis treatment Orencia (abatacept) rose 27 per cent to $290m.

Meanwhile, diabetes drugs Onglyza (saxagliptin) and Kombiglyze (saxagliptin/metformin) grew 54 per cent to $172m, and Andreotti said the new Amylin/AZ deal will help drive sales of this franchise alongside Amylin's GLP-1 products Byetta (exenatide) and long-acting follow-up Bydureon.

Turning to the pipeline, Andreotti noted that BMS is waiting for an EU verdict on another diabetes treatment - Forxiga (dapagliflozin) - in the second half of the year, and now has a "clear path forward" to bring Eliquis (apixaban) for the prevention of stroke and systemic embolism in patients with atrial fibrillation after receiving a complete response letter from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Andreotti also commented that BMS intends to start phase III trials of its cancer immunotherapy PD-1 in lung and kidney cancer within the next few months, with pivotal trials in melanoma due around the turn of the year.

"On balance, our second quarter performance sets a good foundation for the future of our company," he said.

26th July 2012

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