Eli Lilly has posted a more than sixfold rise in net income for the fourth quarter to $854.4 million or $0.78 per share, while revenues were up 22.2% driven by Cymbalta and Cialis.

Sales reached $5.19 billion, fuelled again by the strong performance of the company’s depression drug Cymbalta (duloxetine), which increased 48% to $628.3 million, boosted by additional approvals for the treatment of major depressive and anxiety disorders. Another welcome addition to the coffers was the full contribution of the erectile dysfunction drug Cialis (tadalafil) which generated sales of $346.2 million, up 29%. Lilly gained all of the revenues from the drug when it acquired Icos Corp last year.

However Lilly’s best-selling drug continues to be the schizophrenia drug Zyprexa (olanzapine), which had sales of $1.27 billion, up 10% and helped by a price increase, despite flat revenues in the USA and generic competition in Canada and Germany. Of the firm’s other drugs, the fast-acting insulin Humalog rose 18% to $414.2 million, Gemzar (gemcitabine) was up 15% to $425.5 million and another cancer drug Alimta (pemetrexed) increased 42% to $244.1 million.

The osteoporosis drug Evista (raloxifene), approved in September by the US Food and Drug Administration for prevention of breast cancer for certain postmenopausal women, had revenues of $286 million, up 6%. Sales of Lilly’s other osteoporosis treatment Forteo (teriparatide) increased 15% to $198.2 million.

Analysts were impressed with the results, as was chief executive Sidney Taurel. He said that the firm’s “additional investment in sales and marketing helped fuel accelerated double-digit sales growth this quarter, which was once again driven mainly by volume”.

He added that the performance “provided the financial flexibility we sought to make appropriate investments in R&D, resulting in an unprecedented 16 new candidates entering the clinic in 2007” and the signing of several in-licensing deals. One of those deals, which gives Lilly exclusive worldwide rights to BioMS Medical's Phase III drug candidate MBP-8298, for multiple sclerosis, will lead to a $0.05 per share charge this year.

Including that charge, Lilly concluded by forecasting earnings of $3.80 to $3.95 per share in 2008.