New drugs boost Lilly in Q1 as company hopes for turnaround year

New drugs from Eli Lilly have produced a strong showing in the first quarter, in what could be a key year for a company still recovering from patent expiry of its former blockbuster antidepressant Cymbalta.

Lilly’s Taltz (ixekizumab) rival to Novartis’ Cosentyx (sekukinumab) in plaque psoriasis was approved in Europe during the quarter, shortly after FDA approval – a drug which the company believes could break the billion dollar per year sales barrier.

But the company awaits results from a pivotal phase 3 trial of solanezumab for Alzheimer’s disease in autumn, a drug which could be a game-changer in treatment of the condition. It could also transform Lilly’s balance sheet, with some analysts suggesting peak sales of more than $5 billion.

A Q1 results statement shows Lilly’s diabetes drugs Trulicity (dulaglutide) and Jardiance (empagliflozin) generated sales of almost $143.6 million and $38.2 million respectively during the period.

The drugs have been on the market just over a year, accruing sales of $18.3 million and $19.3 million in the previous Q1.

Newer cancer drug Cyramza (ramucirumab) almost doubled its sales, generating $131 million this Q1 compared with $67.5 million in Q1 last year.

But sales of Humalog (insulin lispro) fell 11% to $606.3 million because of lower prices. Sales from the company’s former top-selling drug Cymbalta (duloxetine) antidepressant fell 31% to $198.7 million due to loss of patent protection in Europe and the US several years ago.

The Venezuelan financial crisis and the deterioriation of the bolivar prompted the company to cut profit targets for the year and recorded a first-quarter charge of $203.9 million.

Revenues increased 5% compared with the previous Q1 to almost $4.9 billion, but net income fell 4% to $882.3 million.

Related stories:

Lilly pays AstraZeneca $100m as Alzheimer’s drug enters phase 3

Lilly changes endpoint in key phase 3 Alzheimer’s trial


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