Eli Lilly posted a net profit of $822 million in the second quarter of 2006, turning around a $252 million loss in the same period of last year and helped in no small part by a near-doubling in sales of its antidepressant Cymbalta.Sales of Cymbalta (duloxetine) soared 92% to $310 million as total group revenues climbed 5% to $3.9 billion. The drug’s steller performance came on the back of a massive sales and marketing campaign, including direct-to-consumer advertising in the USA.The increase is remarkable as the antidepressant sector has been depressed of late, with a number of products finding it hard to generate solid growth in the wake of a number of safety concerns – including a link to suicidal ideation – as well as the start of generic competition for some top brands in the USA.Lilly’s return to profit came against a tough period last year when Lilly had to settle lawsuits alleging that its schizophrenia drug Zyprexa (olanzapine) had caused diabetes in some patients. This product also managed a gain, up 2% to $1.12 billion, but was down 1% in the USA.Lilly’s diabetes care franchise, including its insulin range and Byetta (exenatide), grew 5% to $701 million in the second quarter, with Humalog (insulin lispro) driving the category with an 8% hike to $321 million. But new entrant Byetta showed its muscle with a contribution for the quarter of $99 million, despite only being available on the market since last June and suffering from some production capacity constraints. Byetta is partnered with Amylin Pharmaceuticals, and Lilly reports its 50% share of the product’s gross margins as revenue.Sales of Lilly’s second-biggest product, cancer drug Gemzar (gemcitabine) were flat in the second quarter at $344 million and down 3% in the USA, while other than Cymbalta the strongest growers were: lung cancer drug Alimta (pemetrexed), up 38% to $153 million; osteoporosis treatment Forteo (teriparatide), which climbed 43% to $146 million; and Cialis (tadalafil), marketed for erectile dysfunction by the Lilly ICOS joint venture, which made £223 million, up 22%. For full-year 2006, the company now expects sales growth at approximately the low end of its previous guidance of 7%-9% growth. Top 10 Lilly products by first half 2006 sales

  1. Zyprexa $2.12bn -1%
  2. Gemzar $682m +5%
  3. Humalog $625m +7%
  4. Cymbalta $543m +103%
  5. Evista $517m +1%
  6. Humulin $438m -13%
  7. Strattera $296m +22%
  8. Alimta $283m +38%
  9. Actos $281m +3%
  10. Forteo $273m +62%

Source: Eli LillyMeanwhile, Lilly also said today it has agreed to co-promote its Arxxant (ruboxistaurin) eye drug with Alcon in the USA and Puerto Rico. The medication, developed as a treatment for diabetic retinopathy, is under review by the US Food and Drug Administration. Analysts said Lilly was wise to partner the drug with an ophthalmology company, even though it has extensive experience selling drugs for diabetics, as this complication of the disease tends to be handled by eyecare specialists.