Eli Lilly has posted a 27% decline in earnings for the fourth quarter, but sales dipped only 2%, despite the US patent expiry on antipsychotic Zyprexa and thanks again to the performances of the antidepressant/fibromyalgia blockbuster Cymbalta and the lung cancer drug Alimta.

Net income was $858.2 million, also hit by higher marketing and administrative expenses, plus restructuring costs and other charges, while turnover came in at almost $6.01 billion. The best performer was Cymbalta (duloxetine), which stormed up 20% to $1.18 billion. Alimta (pemetrexed) increased 12% to $638.1 million.

Zyprexa (olanzapine) had turnover of $749.6 million, a fall of 44% (and down 56% in the USA). As for Lilly’s other products, the insulin products Humalog and Humulin increased 21% and 20% respectively, to $662.0 million and $345.6 million.

The osteoporosis drug Evista (raloxifene), which is also approved for the prevention of breast cancer for certain postmenopausal women, was flat at $267.1 million, up 5%, while sales of Lilly’s other osteoporosis drug Forteo (teriparatide) increased 16% to $262.5 million. The erectile dysfunction drug Cialis (tadalafil) rose 6% to $494.2 million, while the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder drug Strattera (atomoxetine) generated $170.6 million of sales, an increase of 10%.

The chemotherapy Gemzar (gemcitabine) sank 62% to $92.6 million, due to generic competition, while the cancer agent Erbitux (cetuximab) brought in $107.9 million, up 14%. Sales of the bloodthinner Effient (prasugrel) which is partnered with Daiichi Sankyo, came in at $90.9 million, up from $83.5  million in the third quarter of 2011.

John Lechleiter, Lilly's chief executive, said despite the sales erosion resulting from the loss of patent exclusivity for Zyprexa, "I am encouraged by the strong performance of many other areas of our business". He highlighted solid growth in the quarter for key regions including Japan and the emerging markets.

Jentadueto approved, Alzheimer drug trials advance

The results came out just after Lilly and partner Boehringer Ingelheim announced that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved the combination therapy Jentadueto (linagliptin/metformin) for the treatment of adults with type 2 diabetes. The product combines metformin with the firms' DPP-4 inhibitor Tradjenta.

Also of note was the news that an independent data monitoring committee has recommended that Lilly continue the two ongoing Phase III trials for the investigational Alzheimer's drug solanezumab "without modifications".