Company news: BMS, Shire, Walgreen

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Better than expected US sales of Plavix helped Bristol-Myers Squibb power through the first quarter with a 5% revenue gain over the first quarter of 2011. The soon-to-be-off-patent clot-buster did a brisk $1.6 billion in first quarter US sales, beating analyst estimates and making up for a 29% erosion in hypertension drug Avapro, which lost US exclusivity in March. Sales of Abilify, for schizophrenia and bipolar, were flat, at $621 million, and HIV treatment Reyataz dipped slightly, by 2%, while the Sustiva/Atripla franchise, also for HIV, saw revenues rise, by 13% to $386 million, as did the company's newer products, including: hepatitis B treatment Baraclude (up 18% to $325 million); RA drug Orencia (up 28% to $254 million); Sprycel (for leukemia, up 34% to $231 million); and diabetes drug Onglyza (up 107% to $118 million). Analysts gave the numbers a muted welcome, having already priced in the lean pharma's focus and strong pipeline (including Yervoy, apixiban and hepatitis C treatments), expected to help the firm climb out of the deep hole left by the loss of exclusivity for Plavix in May. “Even assuming a sizeable future revenue contribution from its pipeline, because of various large patent expirations our current model continues to show essentially no growth over a many-year period,” wrote Bernstein's Tim Anderson in an analyst note.

Shire announced Thursday that quarter product sales were $1 million for the quarter ended March 31, a 25% increase over the sales for the same period last year. The biotech saw strong growth of its ADHD products Vyvanase, with sales of $260 million, a 29% increase over the same period last year, and Intuniv, which saw sales leap 63% over the same period last year, reaching $67 million. The company said it expects revenues to grow in the low teens for the year. Analysts note that the FDA has yet to clear Shire's Lexington, MA, facility to produce its Gaucher's disease treatment VPRIV. The reduced capacity leaves the company dependent upon its plant in Cambridge, MA, putting pressure on US supplies. The company also reaffirmed it is exiting the Fabry's disease market. Shire entered at the FDA's request when Genzyme's manufacturing problems forced patients to ration their Fabry's disease drugs. Shire's drug, Replagal, was not approved by the FDA but was given short-term clearance. Shire also submitted a BLA for approval, but backed off earlier this year when it looked like the FDA would want more tests. Shire said its Replagal distribution will cease June 30, when all patients have been moved to other treatments.

A Walgreen Co. study shows that discount prescription programs and pharmacists can have a major impact on keeping patients on their medication regimens. The results were revealed last week at the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy Meeting and Expo. The company said members of its savings program, which provides discounts for the un- or under- insured were 10% more likely to have their diabetes medications on hand compared to non-members. The company also said pharmacist-guided interactions improved therapy adherence among first-time statin and thyroid medication users. Walgreen Co. said the study showed 56% of patients were likely to have these medications on hand one year into treatment, up from 44%.
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