Forest sees quarterly and annual sales sink

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Quarterly sales at Forest Labs slumped 21.4% to $783.2 million, compared to $997 million during the same period the year before, bitten by lost sales of anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication Lexapro, which went generic in March 2012. The company noted that rising sales of medications such as its Alzheimer's therapy Namenda ($439 million, up 12% from the same period last year), and major depressive disorder medication Viibryd ($45 million, up 80%) helped offset some of these losses.

Despite the losses, Forest beat expectations of Leerink Swann analyst Seamus Fernandez, largely based on cutbacks: SG&A costs shrank 9.2%, to $372 million, compared to $411 million for the same period last year.

Sales for the fiscal year that ended March 31 fell 32%, to $3 billion, from $4.4 billion for the previous fiscal year. The company also closed the year with a $32 million loss, compared to income of $980 million for the year before.

The company said it expects sales to reach $3.4 billion for the 2014 financial year and that SG&A expenses will increase by 11%, to $1.75 billion. The company said the funding will go toward “continued competitive levels of support” behind existing products, including fibromyalgia drug Savella and blood pressure medication Bystolic, which has seen its patent exclusivity challenged by generics firms.

Despite corporate's optimistic take, Leerink Swann's Fernandez wrote in his Tuesday research note that the drug maker's FY2014 outlook fell below his cumulative estimates with regard to new products Namenda XR, Viibryd, COPD drug Daliresp, antibacterial Teflaro, and CNS candidate levomilnacipran. Bystolic, he wrote, is a "lone bright spot."

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