US drugmaker Forest Laboratories has posted a 12% increase in fiscal third-quarter revenues to $998.2 million, helped by another strong performance from its flagship antidepressant Lexapro.

Net income was up 21% to $301.8 million, or $0.96 per share, a result which comfortably beat analysts’ consensus forecasts. Lexapro (escitalopram oxalate), which is licensed from Denmark’s Lundbeck, contributed $603.4 million, an 11% increase year-on-year, while sales of Namenda (memantine), Forest’s N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist for the treatment of moderate and severe Alzheimer's disease, reached $218.7 million during the quarter, up 26%. The antihypertensive Benicar (olmesartan medoxomil), which is co-promoted with Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo, brought in $51.8 million, an increase of 34%.

Chief executive Howard Solomon said that the firm is progressing well in terms of other products and the launch has commenced for the new high blood pressure drug partnered with Daiichi called Azor, a fixed-dose combination of two antihypertensives – amlodipine (Pfizer’s Norvasc which is now off-patent in the USA). Another antihypertensive, Bystolic (nebivolol) has also just been launched and Forest has also filed a New Drug Application for milnacipran, for fibromyalgia.

The results impressed analysts who put to one side momentarily the upcoming patent expirations Forest is going to suffer on Lexapro and Namenda. Corey Davis at Natixis Bleichroeder said it was encouraging to see that the firm “can hold down costs and still generate upside to revenue”, thus demonstrating “high profitability and lots of flexibility for future investment in its pipeline''.

Forest concluded by noting that it has increased its expectations for earnings per share for the fiscal year ending March 31, to $3.35-$3.45 from $3.10-$3.20 per share. The revised guidance excludes the impact of the one-time licensing payment, equal to $0.15 per share, made to Microbia in the fiscal second quarter for the rights to linaclotide, a compound being investigated in Phase II for chronic constipation and constipation predominant irritable bowel syndrome.