Generics take a billion-dollar bite from Bristol-Myers sales

If today's pharma sales reports look grim, none is so grim as Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY). The company's loss of exclusivity on its top-selling drug Plavix helped push U.S. sales down by 27%. The loss of patent protection of Avapro and Avalide didn't help either. Overall, revenues dropped by 18% to $4.4 billion.

The ominous thing about this quarter's figures is that Plavix just fell off patent in the U.S. in May, halfway through the quarter--and U.S. sales still dropped 60% to $701 million. Plavix revenues are likely to suffer even more next quarter, when it faces a full three months of cheap competition.

For the Avapro franchise, patents ran out in March, so this quarter is the first full period with generic competition. Sales of the two cardiovascular drugs dropped by 85% in the U.S., to $20 million, and 53% in Europe, to $117 million.

Looking on the bright side, Bristol pointed out that sales actually grew by 8%, if you back out the Plavix and Avapro numbers. The Onglyza franchise, for diabetes, turned in 54% growth, to $172 million. The rheumatoid arthritis drug Orencia delivered a healthy 27% growth, to $290 million. And the cancer drug Sprycel grew by 26% to $244 million. But it was Yervoy, Bristol's new melanoma drug, that really took a leap: 71%, to $162 million.

Total sales without the offending Avapro and Plavix? $3.58 billion, compared with $3.318 billion last year. But that's almost $1 billion less than Q2 revenues with those two declining products, and almost $2 billion less than last year's total. So the rest of the products in Bristol's portfolio have an awful lot of ground to make up.

CEO Lamberto Andreotti accentuated the positive, as one might expect, citing hopes for new approvals in cancer and the planned acquisition of diabetes specialist Amylin Pharmaceuticals. "We have been preparing for the expected loss of exclusivity of Plavix and Avapro/Avalide for a number of years," Andreotti said, "and I am pleased with our company's progress ...  [W]e are building a strong foundation for success."

- read the Bristol-Myers release