Ranbaxy sees tough quarter as it recovers from manufacturing mess

India's largest generic drugmaker blamed a 90% drop in first-quarter profit on the fact that it just couldn't match the same period last year when it launched its exclusive generic version of Lipitor, the world's best-selling drug. Ranbaxy Laboratories didn't mention the numbers were also pulled down by the fact that last quarter it had not fully recovered from having to halt production of the drug and recall more than 40 lots because of manufacturing problems. Those problems devastated its market share for generic Lipitor.

The drugmaker reported that net profit fell to 1.26 billion rupees ($23.29 million) in the first quarter of this year, from 12.47 billion rupees ($230 million) last year. Sales fell 34.2 percent to 24.4 billion rupees ($450 million).

Ranbaxy restarted production of atorvastatin in February. It had halted production at a plant and recalled 41 lots in November 2012 after discovering tiny glass particles in an ingredient. After an investigation, it tracked the problem to a cracked lining in a mixing tank at a plant in India. The cost of lost sales and the recall led Ranbaxy to a $90.95 million loss in the final quarter of last year. The recall tripped up the Indian drugmaker about 7 months after its return from FDA banishment from the U.S. market. And it has tripped up on the drug that powered that massive first quarter last year. Before the recall it was leading the world in the production of generic Lipitor. After that, its 43% market share in the U.S. fell to about 3%, according to IMS Health stats.

The drugmaker also reported Wednesday that its 5-year consent decree with U.S. officials "progressed per plan." In January 2012, Ranbaxy and Daiichi Sankyo, the Japanese company that owns controlling interest in Ranbaxy, entered into the agreement with the Department of Justice and the FDA, part of which required the company to use independent, outside consultants to oversee its operations and report regularly to the agency. It also forfeited the 180-day exclusivity it had for three unnamed products.

- here's the release