Bristol-Myers scores with cancer, diabetes sales hikes

Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) third-quarter results amount to a good-news, bad-news report. On the positive side, international sales were up 18%, driving an overall increase of 9%. Its diabetes portfolio took a big step forward, with sales of $411 million, a year-over-year increase from $253 million. Plus, cancer drugs shone, as the melanoma drug Yervoy delivered an impressive 33% increase, continuing its quick vault toward blockbuster territory. Overall, Q3 results topped analyst estimates.

On the less-positive side, that 9% growth came off a truly nasty third quarter last year, when sales plummeted by 30% on generic competition for its megablockbuster blood-thinner, Plavix. This time around, U.S. sales were essentially flat, with 1% growth. Meanwhile, Eliquis, which Bristol-Myers is counting on to take up the Plavix slack, hasn't yet taken its spot as king of the hill.

Last year at this time, we put forth two questions for the future to answer: One was whether Eliquis would, a., finally win FDA approval and, b., take the market by storm as expected. The other, whether Bristol-Myers would see a big payoff from the expanded diabetes alliance with AstraZeneca ($AZN)--which included the buyout of Amylin Pharmaceuticals and its drugs Byetta and Bydureon.

Eliquis approval, check. Eliquis sales, not quite yet. They came in at $75 million for the quarter, which is an enormous improvement over last quarter's $12 million and the first quarter's $17 million. And that means that, for the first 9 months of the year, Eliquis topped $100 million for Bristol-Myers, more than double the 2012 total of $49 million. Still, the anticoagulant, long anticipated to quickly dominate the warfarin-alternative class, has had a tougher-than-expected time competing with Bayer and J&J ($JNJ)'s Xarelto and Boehringer Ingelheim's Pradaxa.

Diabetes? Bristol-Myers and AstraZeneca appear to have scored a qualified victory here. Forxiga, its latest creation, won a rebuff from the FDA earlier this year, but the company says it's now ready for an advisory panel hearing in December. Onglyza, the duo's DPP-4 drug, didn't ace an outcomes trial as the companies had hoped, but it did deliver 28% growth in the quarter, to a tidy $653 million.

Meanwhile, Byetta and Bydureon each took big leaps upward--to $295 million and $205 million, respectively--as the Amylin buyout truly kicked in. And as CFO Charles Bancroft pointed out during the Q3 earnings call, Onglyza, its sister combo drug Kombiglyze, Byetta and Bydureon all made Express Scripts' new brand-controlled formulary, beating out rivals from Novo Nordisk (Victoza) and Eli Lilly (Tradjenta).

If CEO Lamberto Andreotti has anything to say about it, next quarter's Eliquis numbers will measure up to the diabetes growth. Bristol-Myers will be pumping up its commercial push on Eliquis, Andreotti said, particularly in the U.S. And asked whether the company had tempered its expectations for the drug, Andreotti bristled. "Our expectations for peak sales have not changed," he quickly said. "We are confident about Eliquis and about what the product can achieve."

- see the release from Bristol-Myers

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