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

Related Articles:
It's on: Vimizim, Trulicity clash in #FierceMadness final
Sanofi won't discount Toujeo to Lantus
Can Sanofi's inhalable Afrezza win reluctant patients over to insulin?
BMS leapfrogs Merck with Opdivo approval in lung cancer
AbbVie says disappointing Viekira sales numbers are misleading

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