Net income at Eli Lilly has doubled for the first quarter to $1.06 billion or $0.97 per share, but still came in under forecasts, due to a higher-than-expected $145.7 million charge taken as a result of abandoning development of its AIR insulin inhaler.

On the sales front, however, things look pretty healthy for Lilly and group revenues increased 14% to $4.81 billion. Growth was again fuelled by the strong performance of the company’s depression drug Cymbalta (duloxetine), which increased 37% to $605.1 million and the erectile dysfunction drug Cialis (tadalafil) which generated sales of $336.9 million, up 27%.

Lilly’s best-selling drug continues to be the schizophrenia drug Zyprexa (olanzapine), which had sales of $1.12 billion, up just 1% due to decreased demand in the USA and hit by generic competition in Canada and Germany. Of the firm’s other drugs, the insulin products Humalog and Humulin rose 18% and 14% to $407.4 million and $257.7 million respectively, Gemzar (gemcitabine) was up 13% to $426.2 million and another cancer drug Alimta (pemetrexed) increased 32% to $247.2 million.

The osteoporosis drug Evista (raloxifene), which was also approved in September last year by the US Food and Drug Administration for the prevention of breast cancer for certain postmenopausal women, had revenues of $261.1 million, down 1%. Sales of Lilly’s other osteoporosis treatment Forteo (teriparatide) increased 21% to $185.0 million.

One source of disappointment was the performance of the type 2 diabetes treatment Byetta (exenatide), which is sold in partnership with Amylin. Worldwide sales were up 15% to $169 million, $82.7 million of which was booked by Lilly, but Amylin chief executive Daniel Bradbury noted that the figure was lower than expected in part due to wholesaler buying patterns. However, “we remain confident that we are taking the right steps to build sustainable Byetta growth over time," he said.

Excluding special items, Lilly said it continues to expect full-year earnings of $3.85-$4 per share, which would represent growth of up to 13% on the figures for 2007.

However, this fairly solid set of results still led to a 4.8% share decline to $49.59, though analysts believe this was principally due to a general disenchantment with pharma stocks at present.