Eli Lilly has posted a 15% decline in earnings for the first quarter, but sales were up 6%, with the antidepressant/fibromyalgia blockbuster Cymbalta and the lung cancer drug Alimta once again driving sales.

Net income reached $1.06 billion, hit by restructuring costs of $76.3 million and a $388.0 million in-process R&D charge associated with the company’s recently-announced diabetes collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim. Sales came in at $5.84 billion and Lilly noted that revenues were reduced by $90 million due to the impact of US health care reform.

The most striking performances came from Cymbalta (duloxetine), up 13% to $908.8 million, while the cancer drug Alimta (pemetrexed) increased 10% to $579.9 million. Lilly’s best-selling drug continues to be the antipsychotic Zyprexa (olanzapine), which had turnover of $1.28 billion, up 6%, a strong result ahead of patent expiries in the major markets starting in October.

Of Lilly’s other products, the insulin products Humalog and Humulin increased 4% and 12% respectively, to $525.4 million and $289.8 million. The osteoporosis drug Evista (raloxifene), which is also approved for the prevention of breast cancer for certain postmenopausal women, had revenues of $266.1 million, up 10%, while sales of Lilly’s other osteoporosis drug Forteo (teriparatide) increased 11% to $216.1 million. The erectile dysfunction drug Cialis (tadalafil) rose 6% to $434.4 million.

The chemotherapy Gemzar (gemcitabine) sank 46% to $243.6 million, due to generic competition. Lilly’s share of revenues from the type 2 diabetes treatment Byetta (exenatide), which is sold in partnership with Amylin, reached $101.8 million, down 12% as a result of “competitive pressures in the US and European markets. The cancer agent Erbitux (cetuximab) brought in $104.0 million, up 12%, while worldwide sales of the bloodthinner Effient (prasugrel) which is partnered with Daiichi Sankyo, came in at $56.3 million, up from $47.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2010.

John Lechleiter, Lilly's chief executive, said the firm is delivering “solid financial results as we continue to advance the next wave of potential new medicines in our pipeline”. He added that revenue growth “allowed us to make necessary investments in R&D to address the challenges of upcoming patent expirations”, claiming that “we are on track to deliver on our 2011 headcount and expense reduction targets, as well as our goal of having at least ten potential new medicines in Phase III clinical development by the end of this year”.