Eli Lilly has posted a strong set of figures for the fourth quarter, with the antidepressant/fibromyalgia blockbuster Cymbalta and the lung cancer drug Alimta once again driving sales.

Net income reached $1.17 billion, up 28% and ahead of analyst forecasts, while sales reached $6.19 billion, a rise of 2%. Lilly noted that revenues were reduced by $70 million due to the impact of US health care reform.

The most striking performances came from Cymbalta (duloxetine), up 19% to $984.6 million and the lung cancer drug Alimta (pemetrexed) which increased 9% to $569.0 million. Lilly’s best-selling drug continues to be the antipsychotic Zyprexa (olanzapine), which had turnover of $1.34 billion, a dip of 2% but up 4% to $669.3 million in the USA, a rise driven by higher prices.

Of Lilly’s other products, the insulin products Humalog and Humulin increased 3% and 5% respectively, to $549.1 million and $287.9 million. The chemotherapy Gemzar (gemcitabine) was down 22% to $243.6 million, due to generic competition, and sales of the erectile dysfunction drug Cialis (tadalafil) were up 6% at $465.9 million. The osteoporosis drug Evista (raloxifene), which is also approved for the prevention of breast cancer for certain postmenopausal women, had revenues of $266.5 million, up 1%, while sales of Lilly’s other osteoporosis drug Forteo (teriparatide) increased 6% to $226.3 million.

The type 2 diabetes treatment Byetta (exenatide), which is sold in partnership with Amylin, had worldwide sales of $174.6 million, down 14% as a result of “competitive pressures in the US and European markets", and $105.3 million (-13%) of that was booked by Lilly. The cancer agent Erbitux (cetuximab) brought in $94.5 million, down 1%, while the bloodthinner Effient (prasugrel) which is partnered with Daiichi Sankyo, had revenues of $47.0 million, up from $36.3 million in the third quarter.

John Lechleiter, Lilly's chief executive, said the results "capped a year of solid financial performance in which we achieved volume-driven revenue growth along with good expense control". He added that "we remain committed to our strategy of accelerating the flow of potential new medicines through our pipeline and are prepared to meet the challenges of patent expirations for several of our products".

For 2011, earnings per share are forecast to reach $3.92-$4.07, including the impact of US healthcare reform of $400-$500 million for the year.