Eli Lilly's patent cliff has struck again, but some analysts found things weren't as bad as they expected when they surveyed the damage Thursday morning. Higher sales of other drugs offset much of the generic competition to newly off-patent Cymbalta, helping the pharma giant beat Wall Street's revenue forecasts by a long shot.
Cymbalta is going down. The question for Eli Lilly is how fast and how far. Last evening, the FDA approved more than a half-dozen generic versions of Cymbalta, the antidepressant that's now Lilly's top-selling drug.
Drugmakers see contract reps as an easy-come, easy-go approach to marketing. Hire up when times are busy and new drugs rolling; staff down when drugs go off patent or the cost-cutting police come calling. But contract reps have rights, too--and that's why a former Eli Lilly sales person is suing the company.
Meeting next year's minimum revenue goal of $20 billion will be "challenging," Eli Lilly says, and analysts are already speculating about "savage" cost cuts if R&D doesn't come through as Lilly hopes.
Showdown day has come for Eli Lilly and Alimta. The company goes to court today to fight for 5 years of additional exclusivity on its top-selling lung cancer drug. If Lilly succeeds in defending a method-of-use patent, Alimta will be covered till 2022--and the Indianapolis-based drugmaker could reap $15 billion in additional sales.
Eli Lilly's second-quarter earnings are up, but the company hasn't done it through rolling out new products or expanding its market. Bracing for the patent loss of top-seller Cymbalta, Lilly has implemented cost-cutting measures, slashed jobs and upped prices on the blockbuster antidepressant to do what drugmakers often do at the end of a patent's life: pump it for sales while they can.
Eli Lilly's CEO John Lechleiter was out for a couple of months as he dealt with some heart issues. He recently returned and guess what he brought with him? More bad news for employees.
The recent layoffs of hundreds of drug sales reps mean there are fewer people in the field calling on doctors to see what they are prescribing. But they don't have to--drugmakers have found new tools that actually can tell them more about doctors' prescribing patterns than the physicians even know themselves.
Salesforce cuts are coming down at Eli Lilly, and 40% of its U.S. sales force will be out. According to the company, the drugmaker sent a state Warn Notice to 1,624 sales positions, of which about 1,000 will be let go.
The moral of Eli Lilly's first-quarter performance is this: Raise prices and cut costs.