Eli Lilly's diabetes drugs drive sales

Eli Lilly's revenue increased 2% in 2015, compared to 2014. The company plans to expand its global research and development headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo credit: Eli Lilly

Eli Lilly executives told investors that once the label for Jardiance, its new type 2 diabetes drug, is updated with new data about how it reduces cardiovascular risks that will make a “huge difference” in the product's sales.

Jardiance is the only drug in its class to have such data. Enrique Conterno, SVP and president of Lilly Diabetes, said during a fourth-quarter earnings call on Thursday that the drugmaker's market research has found that about half of physicians think the new data is for all drugs in the class, not only Jardiance.

“I think the jury is clearly out for the other products, but we do have the evidence for Jardiance,” he said.

See also: BI and Lilly launch DTC campaign for Jardiance   

Increased sales for diabetes drugs such as Humalog and Trulicity were key contributors to Lilly's 2% revenue increase to $20 billion in 2015, compared to $19.6 billion it reported in 2014.

Humalog sales increased 2% to $2.8 billion in 2015. According to the drugmaker, the increase in sales was mainly driven by higher prices and increased volume in the US, which saw a 9% sales increase to $1.8 billion. Outside the US, Humalog sales declined by 8% to $1.1 billion mainly due to unfavorable foreign exchange rates.

Lilly's new injectable type 2 diabetes drug Trulicity has already reported $249.7 million in sales for 2015 since it launched September last year.

See also: Lilly expands Trulicity marketing push, lowers 2015 guidance

The company also expects revenue growth in 2016 from Jardiance and Basaglar, which are both part of the Boehringer Ingelheim and Lilly Diabetes Alliance. The FDA and European regulators have both accepted data about the cardiovascular benefits of Jardiance.

Basal insulin Basaglar received FDA approval as well. The drug will be available in the US starting on December 15 of 2016.

Two diabetes drugs that underperformed in 2015 were Humulin and Cymbalta. Humulin sales decreased 7% overall to $1.32 billion due to significant sales decline—21%—outside the US from unfavorable foreign exchange rates and the loss of a government contract in Brazil. In the US, Humulin saw a 7% sales increase driven by higher prices and wholesaler buying patterns. Cymbalta reported a 36% sales decrease to $1 billion due to the loss of exclusivity in Europe in 2014 and unfavorable exchange rates. 

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