Lilly gears up for 'top-tier' growth to 2025 thanks to its new launches

Eli Lilly has a posse of newer meds bringing in a big chunk of the company's sales, and that group could grow by three members just this year, executives said Thursday. Together, they're expected to drive the company to "top-tier" growth through 2025.

Drugs that launched since 2014 account for nearly half of the company's sales, the company reported along with Lilly's fourth-quarter earnings. That includes meds that have been galloping ahead in recent quarters: type 2 diabetes med Trulicity, immunology drug Taltz, migraine-fighter Emgality and more.

In all, that new generation of drugs pulled in 46% of the global drugmaker's fourth-quarter revenue. That's a big turnabout from just five years ago, a recent review from Vantage noted.

Five years ago, 95% of Lilly's sales were from old drugs, Vantage said, and by its calculations, that was down to 51% at the end of 2019. In the publication's ranking of pipeline "freshness," Vantage called the company's portfolio a "standout performance."

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Up next? Lilly expects to launch acute migraine treatment Reyvow in 2020, and it's prepping for other rollouts that could come by year's end. The company submitted osteoarthritis pain med tanezumab and RET inhibitor selpercatinib to the FDA, with the latter picking up a priority review this week. 

As for ongoing launches, Lilly’s CGRP migraine prevention med Emgality pulled in $162 million in 2019, but the company still sees opportunity for growth, Lilly Bio-Medicines president Patrik Jonsson said. Lilly’s new-to-brand share is nearly 50% and the company plans to bolster its sales efforts with primary care doctors this year, he said during Thursday's earnings call.

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Meanwhile, Lilly's patent expiration for ED med Cialis and its market withdrawal for cancer drug Lartruvo weighed on growth last year. Cialis' loss of exclusivity dragged sales for the ED med down 52% versus 2018 to $890 million.

Further, Lilly expects U.S. generic competition to osteoporosis medicine Forteo this year; that drug generated $645 million in the key market in 2019.

Amid the U.S. pricing debate, Lilly execs also touted the fact that its growth isn't coming from higher prices. In the fourth quarter, Lilly grew volumes 8% in the U.S., partially offset by a 1% decline in pricing. For the full year, the company grew global volumes by 8%, but pricing fell by 3%. Lilly’s 2019 revenues were up 5% at constant currencies to $22.3 billion. 

That volume growth is a “function of our portfolio,” CFO Josh Smiley said on Thursday’s conference call, which he said is "relatively young." Looking forward, the company expects the volume gains to continue through 2025, helping to bring "top-tier" revenue growth, Smiley added.