Pressure on sales of antidepressant Lexapro in the USA had a dampening effect on Danish pharmaceutical group Lundbeck in the second quarter of this year, with operating profit down 47%.

The decline in profit had been expected after Lundbeck warned of declining sales of the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) for Lexapro (escitalopram oxalate) to US licensee Forest, mainly because of inventory overstocking in previous quarters.

However, a pick-up in Lexapro sales reported by Forest in the first-half of this year could signal a recovery going forward, while there was great news for both companies after a US court upheld a patent on the drug and blocked the entry of a generic rival from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.

But earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of 269 million Danish crowns ($46m) still fell short of analysts’ forecasts, mainly because of higher R&D, sales and general administration costs, and shares in Lundbeck were down nearly 4% in mid-morning trading today at 135 crowns.

Sales were down 4% to 2.2 billion crowns, roughly in line with expectations, with US revenues down 35% to 430 million crowns on the back of lower escitalopram supplies to Forest.

Sales of Cipralex (escitalopram oxalate) by Lundbeck were 856 million crowns in the second quarter, up 31%, while Alzheimer’s disease drug Ebixa (memantine) climbed 27% to 337 million crowns.

Meanwhile, two products newly-approved in 2005 – Azilect (rasagiline) for Parkinson’s disease and Serdolect (sertindole) for schizophrenia, contributed 17 million crown and 2 million crowns, respectively.