Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) third quarter continues the generics-are-poison trend. The company saw sales drop by 30%--yes, 30%--as copycats siphoned off sales from its big-selling blood-pressure drugs Avapro and Avalide, and its even bigger clot-fighting treatment Plavix.
Plavix sales in particular took a spectacular suicidal plunge. The drug faced multiple generics as soon as its U.S. patent expired in May, rather than the usual one or two. So, prices went into free fall, and brand sales plummeted by 96%. The once-mighty drug brought in only $64 million for the quarter, Bristol-Myers said.
The bottom line wasn't pretty either. Bristol-Myers reported a per-share loss of 43 cents, thanks to a one-time hit from a failed hepatitis C progam. The company took a $1.8 billion charge after dumping that in-development drug. Excluding charges, the company would have posted profits of $685 million, or 41 cents per share.
In something of an understatement, CEO Lamberto Andreotti said, "Bristol-Myers Squibb faced challenges in the third quarter." He went on to say he was proud of the company's response to those challenges. And he touted the company's big accomplishment for the quarter--its buyout of the diabetes specialist Amylin Pharmaceuticals. Also on the bright side: Without the Plavix and Avapro/Avalide effects, sales grew by 7%.
Among the next big questions are these: Will Eliquis, its new blood thinner, finally win approval--and, more importantly, fulfill its promise on the sales side? Will the Amylin deal--and a related partnership with AstraZeneca ($AZN)--really send diabetes sales into warp speed? Stay tuned for 2013.
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