Viorel Sima /
3 February 2015Americas

Eli Lilly patent expiries force revenue to fall

Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly has reported that its US revenue in 2014 dipped by 29% compared to the previous year, laying the blame on key patents, including those for Cymbalta (duloxetine hydrochloride) and Evista (raloxifene hydrochloride), expiring.

In its full-year results, published on Friday (January 30), the Indianapolis-based company also reported that its total worldwide revenue fell from $23.1 billion in 2013 to $19.6 billion last year, representing a 15% fall.

Eli Lilly lost US patent exclusivity covering its anti-depressant drug Cymbalta in December 2013.

In 2014, the drug’s global revenue fell by 68% year-on-year—from just over $5 billion to $1.6 billion. However, there was a 6% increase in sales of Cymbalta outside the US in the same time period.

Meanwhile, global revenues for the company’s osteoporosis drug Evista fell from $1 billion in 2013 to $419 million a year later, which was a 60% drop. The main US patent covering Evista expired in March 2014.

Worldwide revenue in the fourth quarter of 2014 decreased by 12%, compared with the same period in 2013.

While its revenue has taken a hit in the last year, the company said it expects its 2015 sales figures to range from $19.5 billion to $20 billion, with the January acquisition of Novartis Animal Health hoped to add “significant value”, the company said.

John Lechleiter, chief executive of Eli Lilly, said: “While Lilly’s fourth-quarter 2014 results continue to reflect the impact of patent expirations, we are moving to a period of growth led by diabetes, oncology and animal health.”

He added: “Despite the loss of significant revenue for Cymbalta and Evista following the expiration of our US patents, we saw strong performance from many other products. At the same time, we made excellent progress with our innovation-based strategy, and we continue to advance our pipeline.”

Last week, Pfizer also reported a drop in sales, which it blamed on the expiration of patents protecting arthritis medicines Enbrel (etanercept) and Celebrex (celecoxib).

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