Bristol-Myers Squibb’s first-quarter financials have revealed a healthy jump in turnover and earnings helped by continued strong sales of the bloodthinner Plavix and its virolology franchise.

Net income came in at $743 million, up 16.5%, while group sales increased 11.2% to $4.80 billion. Plavix (clopidogrel) was up 16% to $1.67 billion, while sales of the antipsychotic Abilify (aripiprazole) increased 5% to $617 million.

As for the firm's HIV drugs, sales of the Sustiva (efavirenz) franchise rose 15% to $335 million, and Reyataz (atazanavir) was up 16% to $373 million. Revenues from Baraclude (entecavir) for hepatitis B climbed 42% to $216 million.

As for B-MS’ newer drugs, Sprycel (dasatanib) for leukaemia rose 49% to $131 million, while Orencia (abatacept) for rheumatoid arthritis increased 36% to $169 million. The cancer agent Erbitux (cetuximab) dipped 1% to $166 million and on the negative side, Onglyza (saxagliptin), a dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitor for the treatment of type 2 diabetes partnered with AstraZeneca, brought in just $10 million.

Chief executive-elect Lamberto Andreotti, who takes over from James Cornelius next week, said B-MS made a very positive start to the year. The impact of US health care reform decreased first-quarter earnings by $0.03 per share but he noted that “the challenges of an increasingly complex business environment” now including the latter legisltion, “can be addressed successfully through a sustainable pipeline”.

Mr Andreotti added that he is excited “about the portfolio of products we have in development and look forward to key clinical data for many of them being presented in the next few months”. He made special mention of ipilimumab in metastatic melanoma and dapagliflozin for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.