Pharma has good start to 2008

C&I Issue 9, 2008

In the US, Eli Lilly saw sales grow 14% compared with Q1 2007, to reach $4.8bn. Volumes grew 8% with exchange rates and selling prices contributing 5% and 1% of sales growth, respectively. ‘Double-digit sales growth was once again primarily driven by volume... We also made appropriate investments in R&D to accelerate the progress of our mid-stage pipeline,’ said president and new chief executive officer John Lechleiter. R&D investment was 5% higher than in Q1 2007.

Schering-Plough’s sales were up 56% to $4.7bn, assisted by the first full quarter contribution of $1.3bn from Organon BioSciences, acquired in November 2007, and also by a favourable impact from foreign exchange. R&D expenditure also increased in Q1 2008 to $880m, up from $707m in Q1 2007.

Animal health sales totalled $723m in Q1 2008, including $454m related to Intervet, acquired as part of Organon BioSciences. Schering-Plough is divesting products from 12 animal health product franchises in Europe in two separate agreements with Pfizer and French animal health concern Virbac to meet EU requirements for approval of the acquisition.

Pfizer will take over products from Schering-Plough’s vaccine, parasiticide, insulin and euthanasia portfolios. Virbac gains endocrine, mastitis and sulphonamide products.

Merck & Co saw global sales grow just 1% to $5.8bn. But foreign exchange improved sales by 4% for the quarter. Net income increased from $1.7m in Q1 2007 to $3.3m. Chairman, president and ceo Richard Clark decribed the performance as ‘solid’ despite the loss of patent protection for Fosamax, its osteoporosis therapy. There was, however, a decline in expected sales at the cholesterol joint venture with Schering-Plough. Although Schering-Plough does not include the sales of the joint venture,  if an assumed 50% contribution from the sales is included in Schering-Plough’s Q1 results then total Q1 2008 sales would have been $5.3bn.

GSK is acquiring US biopharmaceutical firm Sirtris Pharmaceuticals for around $720m. The acquisition will enhance its metabolic, immunology and inflammation research activities by establishing a presence in the field of sirtuins, a recently-discovered class of enzymes that are believed to be involved in the ageing process. Sirtris, which will continue to operate from its facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but will be incorporated into GSK’s Drug Discovery organisation, has to date focused on the development of SIRT 1 activators for the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.

AstraZeneca also recorded a 10% sales increase  to $7.7bn, to give a 4% increase in operating profit to $2.3bn. US sales rose 5%, with the inclusion of MedImmune sales in this quarter more than offsetting the decline in US sales of the cardiovascular drug Toprol-XL. Sales in established markets were up 1% despite a 1% decline in Western Europe. Sales in the rest of the world increased by 4%, although emerging markets reported the greatest increase, 11%, driven by strong growth in China and other Asian markets. Ceo David Brennan said: ‘The first quarter performance puts us on track to achieve our full year financial targets.’

Falling US sales of GlaxoSmithKline’s diabetes treatment Avandia due to safety concerns reduced its Q1 pharma turnover 4% to £4.8bn. Vaccine sales saw 10% growth to £436m, and Seretide/Advair, for asthma and COPD, saw 10% sales growth to reach £954m, giving a total company turnover of £5.7bn, up from £5.6bn in Q1 2007.

Germany’s Merck KGaA saw total revenues grow 8.3% to €1.9bn, with positive contributions from all four of the company’s divisions, although currency effects had a considerable negative impact. Operating income grew 49% to €360m. The company plans to increase investment in drug research in 2008 from 18.3% of sales, or €890m in 2007 to  22% of sales, or €1bn.

‘2007 was Bayer’s most successful year to date,’ according to chairman Werner Wenning. And this positive trend has continued into Q1 2008. ‘In the first quarter of 2008, we achieved another year-on-year increase  in the underlying operating result – the 21st in a row,’ he added. German diversified chemical and healthcare major Bayer has reported a 2.4% sales increase to €8.5bn in Q1 2008, giving an 8.9% in EBIT before special items. The main improvement in sales cames from CropScience, which recorded a 14.8% increase, and HealthCare, with a  8.6% increase in sales.

‘We carried over the previous year’s positive trend in both sales and earnings,’ said chairman Werner Wenning, ‘and this strengthens our confidence for the year as a whole.’ He confirmed that Bayer continues to target about 5% currency-adjusted growth for group sales in 2008.

Swiss healthcare major Novartis reported a 9% sales increase to $9.9bn, with double-digit contributions from Sandoz, its generic pharmaceuticals business, vaccines and diagnostics, and consumer healthcare. Sandoz enjoyed 12% sales growth  boosted by fast-growing markets, particularly in Eastern Europe, which offset slower growth in the US. Vaccines and diagnostics recorded a 21% sales growth. ‘Our solid first quarter results show that Novartis is on track,’ said chairman and ceo Daniel Vasella.

‘Our recently announced plans to acquire majority ownership of Alcon will create a new growth platform with the world leader in eye care, further strengthening our healthcare portfolio in a fast-changing healthcare environment, he added. ‘I am confident Novartis will once again achieve record sales and earnings in 2008.’

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