Eli Lilly has posted hefty losses for the fourth quarter, hit by charges connected with its acquisition of ImClone Systems and flat revenues after sales of its antipsychotic Zyprexa took a tumble.

Net loss was $3.63 billion, compared with profits of $854 million in the like, year-earlier period, which is a result of the $4.69 billion charge Lilly took in connection with the ImClone purchase made at the end of last year. Sales reached $5.21 billion.

The most striking performance came from the antidepressant and fibromyalgia blockbuster Cymbalta (duloxetine), which increased 15% to $721 million. Lilly’s best-selling drug continues to be Zyprexa, which had turnover of $1.15 billion, though this represented a 10% decline due to generic competition in Canada and Germany.

Of the firm’s other drugs, the insulin products Humalog and Humulin rose 11% and fell 4% respectively, to $457.9 million and $262.4 million. Gemzar (gemcitabine) slipped 3% to $413.3 million and another cancer drug Alimta (pemetrexed) increased 31% to $318.7 million. The erectile dysfunction drug Cialis (tadalafil) also impressed, bringing in $368.8 million, up 7%.

The osteoporosis drug Evista (raloxifene), which is also approved for the prevention of breast cancer for certain postmenopausal women, had revenues of $269.0 million, down 6%, while sales of Lilly’s other osteoporosis drug Forteo (teriparatide) slipped 2% to $194.5 million. The type 2 diabetes treatment Byetta (exenatide), which is sold in partnership with Amylin, had worldwide sales of $186.6 million, up 2%, and $103.0 million (+12%) of that was booked by Lilly.

Chief executive John Lechleiter said that the “ tempering of sales growth” was due to unfavourable exchange rates, moderation in US demand “and some variations in wholesaler and retailer buying patterns”. However he added that the pipeline is progressing well, with 60 molecules in clinical development and Lilly has also managed to “resolve much of the uncertainty surrounding product litigation”, ie over Zyprexa. In a conference call, Mr Lechleiter addressed the topic of mergers and said that the company has noted in the past that it does not believe in the value of large combinations”.

The results failed to inspire analysts and Barbara Ryan at Deutsche Bank issued a note saying that “growth for key drugs is moderating,” and the company's "near-term earnings per share growth prospects will be tempered by the dilutive impact of the ImClone acquisition”.