Forest Laboratories has posted a strong set of third-quarter results, which show that sales climbed 14% to $795 million, versus the sale period last year [[21/01/04c]], while net income was up 15% to $261 million or $0.70 per share – in line with expectations [[06/01/05c]]

Growth was driven by the firm’s antidepressants, most notably Lexapro (escitalopram) which contributed $427 million to Forest’s coffers and Celexa (citalopram), sales of which were almost $130 million, though antidepressant sales in total were down 5% compared to last year‚’s third quarter as a result of generic competition eroding Celexa revenues [[02/11/04e]]. However, Forest noted that it sold almost $4 million of its own generic version of the drug.

Of the firm’s other products, sales of Alzheimer’s disease treatment Namenda (memantine) topped $100 million, while Forest received some $23 million from the antihypertensive Benicar (olmesartan), which is co-promoted by Sankyo Pharma. This was the first full quarter Benicar was profitable.

Turnover was also boosted by a one-off payment of $34 million with the sale of anti-viral drug Flumidine (rimantadine) to the US government in the wake of last year’s flu vaccine shortage. Forest also said that its R&D spend was up 53% to $77 million, noting that this included a one-time payment to Gedeon Richter for the North American rights to RGH-188, a compound being investigated for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar mania.

Forest’s shares slipped slightly after the results were announced, but chief executive Howard Solomon was upbeat claiming that the continued growth of Lexapro, Namenda and Benicar and the launches of Campral (acamprosate) for alcohol dependence and painkiller Combunox (oxycodone/ibuprofen) “will serve to overcome the loss of Celexa revenues during the coming quarters.”

He added that earnings per share for the full fiscal year ending March 31 should be approximately $2.60.