Net income at Eli Lilly has soared for the second quarter to $958.8 billion or $0.88 per share, up 44%, as sales growth for the antidepressant Cymbalta continued to be stellar.

Group revenues increased 11% to $5.15 billion, fuelled by the strong performance of Cymbalta (duloxetine), which has just been backed by US regulators for fibromyalgia and increased 26% to $654.4 million. Sales of the erectile dysfunction drug Cialis (tadalafil) also impressed, bringing in $362.2 million, up 24%.

However Lilly’s best-selling drug continues to be the schizophrenia drug Zyprexa (olanzapine), which had turnover of $1.24 billion, up 2%, with flat US sales and generic competition in Canada and Germany being offset by demand in Japan and several European markets. Of the firm’s other drugs, the insulin products Humalog and Humulin rose 22% and 12% to $437.9 million and $271.4 million respectively. Gemzar (gemcitabine) was up 11% to $440.1 million and another cancer drug Alimta (pemetrexed) increased 33% to $275.0 million.

The osteoporosis drug Evista (raloxifene), which is also approved for the prevention of breast cancer for certain postmenopausal women, had revenues of $279.8 million, up 1%, while sales of Lilly’s other osteoporosis treatment Forteo (teriparatide) increased 17% to $206.6 million. The type 2 diabetes treatment Byetta (exenatide), which is sold in partnership with Amylin, had worldwide sales of $194.7 million, up 25%, and $101.2 million (+27%) of that was booked by Lilly.

Chief executive John Lechleiter said the firm’s newer products and the diabetes care franchise made good progress and “during the quarter, we also remained engaged in business development activities designed to strengthen our R&D capabilities”. This involved a deal with TransPharma to in-license a Phase II and the acquisition of SGX Pharmaceuticals.

Eli Lilly also lowered its 2008 earnings guidance to $3.79-$3.94 per share from an earlier forecast of $3.90-$4.05 per share, as a result of costs related to plant closures and job eliminations. Analysts were not overly-excited by the results as many of them are waiting to see whether Lilly and Daiichi Sankyo’s prasugrel, a potential rival to Sanofi-Aventis/Bristol-Myers Squibb’s bloodthinner blockbuster Plavix (clopidogrel) will be approved by the US Food and Administration. A decision is expected by September 26.