The Q1 drug launch scorecard, starring Sanofi, Lilly, Pfizer, Gilead, Merck and more

It's the big numbers that tend to make headlines during earnings season: Overall sales, top-selling meds, and, of course, earnings per share. Some closely watched new drugs have a moment in the sun, too. But other launches? Barely a glimpse--if any at all. Here's a roundup of the launch stats that caught our eyes.

  • Sanofi ($SNY) has a lot riding on new diabetes meds as its aging blockbuster Lantus grows inexorably closer to biosimilar competition. Sales have already succumbed--somewhat--to payer discounts, with U.S. sales off 13% for the first quarter. But so far, one of its recently approved products isn't doing so well. The closely watched inhaled insulin Afrezza, developed by MannKind ($MNKD), only brought in €1 million in the period. By contrast, Toujeo, the follow-up to Lantus, delivered €7 million, and it was launched more than a month after Afrezza. Report
  • Eli Lilly ($LLY) has its own diabetes franchise to bolster, and its new GLP-1 drug, Trulicity, appears to be driving growth in that category. That's just as Novo Nordisk ($NVO)--whose Victoza is Trulicity's head-to-head competition--had predicted, and Lilly echoed. Scripts in that class are growing by 16%, with Trulicity capturing some 11% of new-to-brand share, Leerink Partners analysts say. The drug has reimbursement in 65% of commercial insurance plans so far, and Lilly is negotiating for more, including with Medicare Part D coverage. Transcript
  • Pfizer's ($PFE) new breast cancer drug Ibrance raked in $38 million in the first quarter, most of that in the U.S. It's brand-new--approved just in February--so it hasn't had much time to get going, so the quick uptake is impressive. But Ibrance is expensive, which means each script has a big bang's worth of bucks; its list price is $9,850 per month. Story
  • Merck's ($MRK) Keytruda and Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) Opdivo have been in a neck-and-neck race since last fall, with almost back-to-back FDA approvals, a stream of new study data, and quick filings for new indications. But Keytruda is so far winning the race, dollar-wise. The drug brought in $83 million in Q1, a sight more than the $70 million analysts expected. Bristol-Myers' med delivered $40 million, 20% short of Wall Street forecasts--a shortfall that sent shares tumbling on the announcement. "When investors saw Opdivo's number was below Keytruda's, that caused concern," John Boris, an analyst with Suntrust Robinson Humphrey, told Reuters. Article
  • Head-to-head hep C competition between Gilead Sciences ($GILD) and AbbVie ($ABBV) in the U.S. has transfixed pharma-watchers, with updates rolled out regularly. AbbVie's Viekira Pak is falling short--far short--of Gilead's Harvoni and Sovaldi. In the bigger picture, Viekira comes in third in the next-gen hep C market--to Bristol-Myers Squibb, whose regimen hasn't launched yet in the U.S. As Motley Fool points out, Bristol-Myers' Daklinza and Sunvepra, approved in Japan and Europe, raked in $264 million during the first quarter of this year. AbbVie ran up $231 million, in the U.S. and Europe. Analysis
  • Vimizim, the BioMarin ($BMRN) treatment that won FiercePharmaMarketing's drug-name bracket, won with analysts in the first quarter, too. The drug brought in $51 million for the first quarter, a sizable beat to the $41 million analysts had expected. The sales were strong enough to inspire BioMarin to hike its guidance on the med to $200 million to $220 million, from $180 million to $200 million previously. Release

Special Report: Top 15 pharma companies by 2014 revenue - Pfizer - Merck - Gilead - AbbVie - Bristol-Myers - Sanofi - Eli Lilly

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