Bristol-Myers Squibb yesterday unveiled a set of disappointing first quarter results, with net sales down 2% to $4.5 billion dollars as the company was hit hard by the loss of patent protection to its big league products Paraplatin (carboplatin) for cancer, Glucophage/Glucovance (metformin) for diabetes and the HIV drug Videx (didanosine). However, while net earnings dropped from $804 million in 2004 to just $670 million, shares in the company remained relatively flat on the news as the figures remained in line with expectations.

The jewel in the crown was the super-aspirin Plavix (clopidogrel) – marketed with Sanofi-Aventis – which jumped 17% to $814 million. But there was a less than rosy glow over the firm’s cholesterol-lowering agent Pravachol (pravastatin), which declined 23% for the three-month period due to increased competition, but still managed to reap an impressive $520 million. In addition its once top-selling anticancer agent Taxol (paclitaxel) pulled in just $205 million, with sales down 16%, while there was also bad news for Paraplatin – down 81% to $44 million – and the Glucophage range, which decreased 73% to $43 million. Overall, US sales declined 10% to $1.8 billion, but international sales saw a marginal 4% improvement – also to $1.8 billion

As for up and coming compounds, the anti-HIV drug Reyataz saw its sales almost double to $149 million, while the antipsychotic Abilify (aripiprazole) rose 63% to $188 million. And B-MS remains steadfastly confident for the future, with the launch of a new hepatitis B drug Baraclude (entecavir) imminent following a March approval by the US Food and Drug Administration [[30/03/05b]], and two additional compounds expected to win the drug regulator’s nod by the end of the year – muraglitizar for type 2 diabetes abatacept for rheumatoid arthritis.

B-MS has reaffirmed its earnings guidance of fully-diluted earnings per share from continuing operations for 2005 to be between $1.35 and $1.45.