Eli Lilly’s fourth-quarter earnings have been hammered by costly litigation charges and expenses from plant closures but the firm has shown healthy revenue growth thanks to its antidepressant Cymbalta and a strong performance from a number of its new products.

Net income was $132.3 million, which looks pretty paltry compared to the like, year-earlier figure of $700.6 million but profits for this year’s fourth quarter include charges of $945.2 million. Of that total, $494.9 million relates to the settlement of around 18,000 lawsuits concerning the safety of antipsychotic Zyprexa, while the rest of the charges mainly related to the closure of a manufacturing facility in Basingstoke, UK and its R&D sites in Belgium and Germany, as well as the decision to stop construction of the planned insulin plant in Virginia, USA.

Turnover rose 9% to $4.25 billion, and Cymbalta (duloxetine) soared 85% to $424.1 million on the back of a massive sales and marketing campaign, including direct-to-consumer advertising in the USA and international launches. Full-year sales hit $1.32 billion, giving the drug blockbuster status in only its second full year on the market. Despite all the legal woes, Zyprexa (olanzapine) brought in $1.16 billion, an increase of 12%, though that was helped by price rises rather than an increase in volume sold.

Lilly's diabetes care franchise, including its insulin range and Byetta (exenatide), grew 4% to $781.7 million, with Humalog (insulin lispro) driving the category with a 14% jump to $352.2 million. Total sales of the newer drug Byetta climbed 8% to $137 million, and Lilly gets around 50% of that figure, with the rest going to partner Amylin.

Cancer drug Gemzar (gemcitabine) was up 5% at $371.3 million and down 3% in the USA, while sales of lung cancer treatment Alimta (pemetrexed) increased 26% to $171.4 million. The osteoporosis drug Forteo (teriparatide), US sales of which significantly benefited from access to medical coverage through the Medicare Part D programme, leapt 46% to $172.1 million and Cialis (tadalafil), co-marketed for erectile dysfunction with newly-acquired ICOS Corp, brought in total turnover of £269.2 million, up 28%.

Lilly is confident that the restructuring measures it has taken will produce significant benefits but analysts are most impressed by the continued stellar performance of Cymbalta, despite generic antidepressants flooding the US market, and the potential shown by the antithrombotic prasugrel, co-developed with Daiichi Sankyo, for which a New Drug Application is expected to be submitted by the end of 2007.