Lilly's Emgality powers ahead with 'best-in-class' CGRP access

Eli Lilly’s CGRP migraine prevention drug Emgality is in a heated market share race with Amgen’s Aimovig and Teva’s Ajovy, but in the second quarter, it gained some steam.

By the end of the period, Emgality held 41% of the new-to-brand market share, a 9% jump from the end of the first quarter, Lilly execs reported with the company's quarterly results. Amgen will update on its own drug’s performance late Tuesday, but Lilly’s drug is showing strong momentum and now has “best-in-class” access, Lilly execs said.

Sales, though, are still catching up, thanks in part to an early strategy that involved distributing the drug for free. Sales reached just $34 million for the quarter, although Lilly's leadership did report that three-fourths of Emgality prescriptions are now paid.

The Emgality launch figures bode well for Lilly as it leans on its new meds for growth. For the second quarter, Lilly's “key growth products," a set that includes breast cancer therapy Verzenio, anti-inflammatory drugs Olumiant and Taltz and diabetes treatment Jardiance, reached $2.4 billion in global sales, or 43% of the company’s total haul. Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis med Taltz is powering ahead despite a new rival in AbbVie’s Skyrizi, and Type 2 diabetes drug Trulicity turned in $1 billion in quarterly sales in the face of stiff competition from Novo Nordisk. 

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While Lilly is succeeding at growing volumes for many of its drugs, the company's prices in many places around the world are suffering. Across its portfolio, prices slipped 4% in the U.S., 2% in Europe and 2% in the rest of the world. In Japan, prices stayed flat.  

On the flip side, Lilly grew volumes 5% in the U.S., 8% in Europe, 4% in Japan and 14% in the rest of the world. Total revenue of $5.64 billion grew 1%, or 3% at constant exchange rates, versus last year’s second quarter. 

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Lilly is relying on its new meds following a big patent loss for Cialis. The drug’s sales fell 63% during the quarter to $200 million, and it wasn't the only one in the portfolio to struggle. Lilly's insulin Humalog, once its best-seller, continued to slide, falling 12% in the quarter to $677 million. And bone drug Forteo is hurting from lower demand and lower prices, sinking 17% to $360 million.

Overall, sales for the Indianapolis pharma giant topped analyst estimates of $5.58 billion, while earnings per share of $1.50 beat profit expectations of $1.45. Lilly's lower-than-expected tax rate of 9.5% for the period significantly helped the earnings figure.