23 October 2014Americas

Eli Lilly blames profit plunge on patent expiries

Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly has said its profits fell by more than 50% in the most recent quarter, citing patent expirations and generic competition as contributing factors.

The US drug maker said today (October 23) that it earned $501 million in profit in the third quarter of 2014, compared with $1.2 billion a year earlier, a fall of 58%.

Its overall sales revenue fell 16% to $4.88 billion.

According to the firm, the loss of exclusive patents on important medicines including depression treatment drug Cymbalta (Duloxetine) was among the biggest factors.

Sales of Cymbalta, the patent for which expired in December last year, fell 73% to $368m.

Its osteoporosis treatment drug Evista (Raloxifene) began facing generic competition in March this year following its patent expiring, and sales fell by 65%.

In a statement, company chair John Lechleiter said:  "While Lilly's third-quarter financial results continue to reflect the impact of recent patent expirations, our clinical pipeline is now producing strong momentum to drive future growth."

Lechleiter added: "In the past quarter alone, three new medicines were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and several others had positive data readouts.

“We are focused on successfully launching this new wave of innovative medicines while still sustaining a steady flow of promising assets in our pipeline."

The FDA approved two new drugs to treat type 2 diabetes—Jardiance (empagliflozin) and Trulicity (dulaglutide)—and granted tentative approval for a generic form of Sanofi's Lantus (insulin glargine).

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