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Big pharma releases earnings for 4th quarter of 2012

Over the last two weeks, major pharmaceutical companies have released their earnings for the fourth quarter of 2012. Among the companies that have already released official figures regarding quarterly profits are Amgen, Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novartis, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Abbott, and Roche. GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi are expected to release their figures on Friday.

The companies that sustained positive growth in revenues over the last quarter of the year include California-based Amgen, with a 11% increase in revenues and a 9% increase in sales from 2012, mainly driven by demand for arthritis drug Enbrel, osteoporosis drug Prolia, and cancer drug Xgeva, which prevents fractures in patients with bone metastases. The company acquired the Iceland-based deCODE Genetics in December, and has several new products under development despite civil liability lawsuits for promotional practices related to the drugs Aranesp, Epogen, Neupogen, and Eulasta, sales for all of which declined from last year.

Novartis recorded a 2% growth in sales for the fourth quarter, despite several patent expirations this year. The company had 17 major new approvals, including the advanced cancer drug Afinitor. New drugs made up 29% of group net sales in the last quarter of 2012, and many more pharmaceutical products are expected to be launched in the near future. Sales for Denmark-based Novo Nordisk grew dramatically, going up by 18%, with net profits increasing by 25%. The company recently launched type 1 and 2 diabetes drugs Victoza, NovoRapid, and Levemir.

Strong performances were also seen by Roche and Pfizer: the former received key approval of HER2-positive breast cancer drug Perjeta this year, and growing sales of best-selling products MabThera/Rituxan, Herceptin, and Avastin led to an increase in 4th quarter group sales of 4% compared to 2012. Roche also expects their anti-breast cancer drug T-DM1 to be approved this year. Pfizer, with a 7% increase in both reported revenues and adjusted income for the last quarter, was also strengthened by the recent sale of its nutrition business.

Among the companies that posted a loss in profits compared to the same period last year were Bristol-Myers Squibb, with a 24% decrease in sales in the 4th quarter of 2012, and Merck and Abbott, which observed a decrease in profits. Bristol-Myers Squibb saw the expiration of US patents on hypertension drug Avapro/Avalide and anti-clotting drug Plavix last year, but its stroke drug Eliquis and type 2 diabetes drug Forxiga were recently approved by regulatory agencies in the US and Europe. Merck reported a 7% loss in profits and a 4.5% decrease in sales, mainly driven by the loss of patent protection on allergy and asthma treatment Singulair, despite sales gains of other products such as the human papillomavirus vaccine Gardasil. Profits for Abbott dropped by 35%, despite the fact that reported worldwide sales grew by 4.4%. AstraZeneca was also particularly hard hit, with a 15% decrease in annual revenues, while Eli Lilly was not as negatively affected with a decrease of only 1%.

This post was written by:

Stefano Iantorno View author bio

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