Covid drugs fail to pay off for Eli Lilly

Antibody treatment sales fall amid fears that new variants could prove resistant to it

Sales of Eli Lilly’s antibody treatment sales fall amid fears that new variants could prove resistant to it. Photograph: Simone Baribeau/Bloomberg

Sales of Eli Lilly’s antibody treatment sales fall amid fears that new variants could prove resistant to it. Photograph: Simone Baribeau/Bloomberg

 

Drugmaker Eli Lilly on Tuesday missed analysts’ estimates for first-quarter profit and tightened its forecast for full-year adjusted earnings, partly due to lower demand for its Covid-19 drugs.

The US government stopped the distribution of Lilly’s Covid-19 antibody drug, bamlanivimab, as a standalone treatment last month in response to new variants in the country that could be resistant to it when used alone.

Overall demand for antibody drugs from Lilly and Regeneron has suffered for months in the United States, given the complexities associated with the treatments.

Lilly earned $810.1 million from its Covid-19 drugs in the quarter, below estimates of $985 million. The drugs, which include bamlanivimab as well as its combination with etesevimab, had brought in sales of $871.2 million in the fourth quarter.

The company now expects adjusted full-year earnings of $7.80 to $8 per share from its prior forecast of $7.75 to $8.40 per share.

Sales from Covid-19 drugs are now expected in the range of $1 billion to $1.5 billion from $1 billion to $2 billion projected previously.

The drugmaker has said it will focus on bamlanivimab-etesevimab combination, which has been shown to neutralise more Covid-19 variants than just bamlanivimab.

Excluding items, the company earned $1.87 per share, missing estimates of $2.13 per share. Net earnings fell to $1.36 billion, or $1.49 per share, in the quarter ended March 31st from $1.46 billion, or $1.60 per share, a year earlier. – Reuters