TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The first generic competition to Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s top-selling drug, blockbuster blood thinner Plavix, has slashed sales as expected, dragging down the drugmaker's second-quarter results.
Five of the company's newer medicines saw sales jump by more than 20 percent, picking up some of the slack, according to results released Wednesday. In addition, the company just made a sizable bet on a venture that could eventually vault Bristol-Myers back to prominence in the huge, fast-growing market for diabetes medicines.
But that couldn't obscure the dismal numbers resulting from Plavix, along with blood-pressure drugs Avapro and Avalide, getting generic competition this spring. The Plavix hit was particularly tough, as it has been the world's second-bestselling drug since 2007, bringing partners Bristol-Myers and Sanofi SA of France a combined $9.3 billion last year alone, according to health data firm IMS Health.
New York-based Bristol-Myers reported Wednesday that its net income in the quarter plunged 28 percent to $645 million, or 38 cents per share, down from $902 million, or 52 cents per share, a year earlier.
Adjusted earnings per share declined 14 percent to 48 cents, just meeting analysts' expectations, but the company lowered part of its 2012 profit forecast. Bristol-Myers now expects 2012 earnings per share of $1.78 to $1.88, down by 12 cents, although its forecast excluding one-time items remains at $1.90 to $2 per share.
Total revenue fell by 18 percent to $4.44 billion, a hair below the $4.45 billion expected by analysts surveyed by FactSet.
Bristol took the rare step of noting that excluding the three medicines hurt by generics, combined sales rose 8 percent in the second quarter. Still, analysts now anticipate its revenue will be at least 10 percent below its 2011 total, $21.2 billion, over a challenging stretch through at least 2016.
That's primarily because Plavix, taken by millions daily to prevent heart attacks and strokes, got U.S. competition from seven generic rivals starting May 17. With patients looking to save money and many insurance plans quickly and automatically switching them to generic pills, Bristol's Plavix sales, nearly all in the U.S., plummeted 60 percent to $741 million.
At the same time, its combined sales of Avapro and Avalide tumbled 53 percent to $117 million. And Bristol's net earnings from sales of all three drugs in countries where Sanofi markets them dropped 60 percent to $163 million.
The bad news didn't end there.
In June, the Food and Drug Administration told Bristol-Myers and Pfizer Inc. it wouldn't approve a heavily touted drug for preventing strokes and embolisms that they have been jointly developing. The companies must provide additional information on their Eliquis. That gives a bigger head start to two other next-generation blood thinners already racking up patients, Boehringer Ingelheim's Pradaxa and Xarelto from Johnson & Johnson and Bayer HealthCare.
In addition, earlier this month Bristol-Myers said a late-stage patient study of brivanib, an experimental drug for advanced liver cancer, didn't keep patients alive as long as a comparison drug.
Meanwhile, Bristol has begun buying up shares of Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc., which makes the popular diabetes drugs Byetta and Bydureon. Bristol has a complex deal to buy the San Diego company for about $7 billion, with British drugmaker AstraZeneca PLC paying Bristol-Myers about half of that. Those two companies will share profits and losses from the two diabetes drugs and any new ones developed.
Bristol produced one of the first hit diabetes medicines, Glucophage. Generic versions, called metformin, have long been the standard starter drug for diabetes, but Bristol has had trouble in the category recently.
The FDA in January said it needed more data to decide whether to approve Bristol's Forxiga. And Onglyza, a diabetes drug Bristol launched three years ago, has been squashed by rival DPP-4 inhibitor Januvia, a Merck & Co. blockbuster. However, Onglyza sales rose 54 percent to $172 million in the second quarter.
Sales edged up 1 percent to $711 million for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder drug Abilify, now Bristol's top seller. They jumped 71 percent for melanoma drug Yervoy, hitting $162 million, and 27 percent to $290 million for rheumatoid arthritis drug Orencia.
Linda A. Johnson can be followed at http://twitter.com/LindaJ_onPharma