Company news: Eli Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline

Despite plummeting Zyprexa sales and a forecast that the deluge is yet to come, Eli Lilly remained upbeat during Wednesday's first quarter earnings call. The company said sales for the quarter fell 4%, to $5.6 billion for the quarter, compared to $5.8 billion for the same period the year before. The company said higher prices eased the sting of falling volume, but could not completely take the edge off of the decline that goes along with the patent expiration of its antipsychotic Zyprexa, which saw US sales fall 56% compared to the same period last year. CFO Derica Rice said that during the earnings call that the brand's $563 billion in sales will be a highpoint. The company expects Zyprexa sales to fall by more than $3 billion over the year because of patent expirations, but said the strength of other drugs could provide a buffer. Sales of anti-depressant Cymbalta spiked 23% to $1.1 billion during the quarter, and sales of its diabetes drug Humalog rose 12% to $591 million compared to sales for the same period last year. The company said it has 12 late-stage drugs in the pipeline, and downplayed expectations for its Phase III Alzheimer's treatment solanezumab. The company said it expects to scale back its SG&A expenses for the year to between $7.4 billion and $7.8 billion, and will keep R&D flat for 2012, spending $5 billion to $5.3 billion.

GlaxoSmithKline's CEO Andrew Witty said Wednesday that the $10.5 billion in sales his firm earned for the first quarter of 2012, a 2% bump over the same period last year, is a sign that the company's progress is on track. US vaccine and pharmaceutical sales were $2.3 billion, up 9%, compared with the same period last year, in contrast to Europe where sales wilted, bringing in $2 billion, a 6% drop from the first quarter in 2011. The company saw major increases in its cardiovascular segment – up 34% compared to last year – and a considerable loss in its metabolic category, down 60% compared with the same period last year. The company revved up its R&D focus during the quarter, investing $1.4 billion, 4% more than the same period last year when it spent $1.3 billion. Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson said in a research note that GSK looks good for the long term, and the pipeline appears to be improving.