ImClone Systems has posted a decline in earnings for the second quarter, though still ahead of analyst consensus estimates, as a result of lower sales of its cancer drug Erbitux.

The firm’s net income fell 14.2% to $31.9 million, or $0.36 per share, while revenues were flat at $150.5 million. As for Erbitux (cetuximab), which is indicated for colon and head-and-neck cancer, global sales were up 16% to $319.2 million but nearly half of that came from overseas and partner Merck KGaA books most of that. US sales of the drug, sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb and for which ImClone receives a 39% royalty, were actually down 6% to $162.1 million.

The company said that the latter decrease was due to the fact that the like, year-earlier results were boosted by a one-time bolus of sales of $15 million related to pent-up demand for the Erbitux plus competition from Amgen’s rival drug Vectibix (panitumumab), though ImClone said that the second quarter saw it reverse a negative sales trend observed since the introduction of panitumumab in the third quarter last year.

The results were announced just after ImClone and B-MS expanded their alliance to explore further development and commercial opportunities in North America for Erbitux which will see investment in the drug increase by “up to several hundred million dollars”. B-MS will be responsible for most development costs, up to an undisclosed threshold value, and this means that in 2007 ImClone’s contribution for clinical spending on Erbitux will decrease by $35 million to $40 million.

Additionally, ImClone's chairman of the executive committee, Alexander Denner, said that “our search for a chief executive is progressing and we hope to be reporting positive news on that front in the next month”. The firm is currently controlled by billionaire investor Carl Icahn and is being temporarily managed by the aforementioned committee.