Analysts: Effient won't be a blockbuster

Eli Lilly's Effient hasn't exactly hit the ground running. The new blood thinner racked up $22 million in sales during its first quarter on the market, the New York Times reports, but sales in the next quarter dropped to $3.8 million. Now, analysts say they're no longer expecting the drug to be a blockbuster. "Even if the company isn't ready to give up on Effient, we are," a Goldman Sachs analyst writes to clients (as quoted by the Times).

Effient won a limited approval--for certain patients who are undergoing angioplasty--and hit the market with a black-box warning of bleeding risks. The pharmacy benefits manager Medco announced that it would run its own head-to-head trial comparing Effient with Plavix, the big-selling clot-buster that's not only cheaper than Effient now, but is also set to go off patent soon, when it will be cheaper still.

So far, doctors aren't convinced that Effient is superior, the Times reports. Plavix works, and it's been on the market for years now, they say. Even Lilly execs say it's tough to sway doctors: "It's a challenge to sell to doctors satisfied with Plavix," VP Javan Collins tells the newspaper.

CEO John Lechleiter says the drop in sales was just a blip, caused by hospitals and pharmacies stocking up on the drug during its first quarter on the market, leaving inventory to be absorbed during the next quarter. So, what will the next quarter bring?

- check out the Times story