Big Pharma continues to roll out its Q1 2023 earnings, with major players unveiling their reports this week.

On Thursday morning, Eli LillyAstraZenecaMerckAbbVie and Sanofi posted their financials, highlighted by strong growth drivers across the board.

Lilly’s quarterly revenue fell 11% to $1.47 billion due to a decrease in revenue from its COVID-19 antibodies. Additionally, Lilly’s adjusted earnings per share (EPS) fell during the quarter.

However, if COVID-19 antibodies were excluded, the company’s revenue increased 10% thanks to volume growth from MounjaroTrulicityVerzenio and Jardiance.

Led by its popular type 2 diabetes drug Mounjaro, Lilly’s New Products segment recorded revenues of $573.6 million, while its Growth Products revenue increased 18% to $4.56 billion due to the performance of the three other drugs and Taltz.

Lilly also released its earnings the same day that it unveiled key data pointing to Mounjaro’s ability to help patients lose meaningful weight. The company now plans to complete rolling submission to the Food and Drug Administration in the coming weeks.

Despite the slip on topline metrics, Lilly raised its full-year financial guidance, with revenue projections up $900 million and an EPS slated in the range of $8.18 to $8.38.

“Core business growth drove solid first-quarter financial results and a strong start for Lilly in 2023, which includes pipeline progress led by positive SURMOUNT-2 data for tirzepatide in obesity,” Lilly CEO David A. Ricks said in a statement. “We also announced important price reductions to make insulin more affordable and accessible for people with diabetes, as well as a significant investment in manufacturing facilities. It is an exciting year for Lilly and we look forward to delivering more medicines for unmet health needs to more people around the world.”

One of the most significant pharma developments during the quarter were the decisions made by Lilly, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk to slash the price of insulin.

To that end, Sanofi’s revenue inched up thanks to 5.5% sales growth at constant exchange rate (CER), especially with Specialty Care up 18.3% due to Dupixent’s performance. 

Breaking with some of its industry peers, Sanofi’s Vaccines segment experienced a boost during the quarter, rising 15.2%. 

However, its General Medicines segment reported sales down 11.4% due to Lantus and other divestments, while core assets grew 1.6%.

Still, the French pharma company confirmed its EPS guidance to grow low single digit at CER for the full-year.

“We have started 2023 with strong results, delivering double-digit sales growth across our Specialty Care, Vaccines and Consumer Healthcare businesses. Dupixent continues its compelling performance and is on track to achieve its €10 billion sales objective for this year,” Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson said in a statement. “The unique product profile of Dupixent was further underscored by highly positive pivotal results in uncontrolled chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which we are looking forward to discussing with regulators.”

Sanofi’s earnings were released hours before the company announced that it completed its $2.9 billion acquisition of Provention Bio, in a move to bolster its diabetes offerings.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca’s total revenue reached $10.8 billion, which grew 15% excluding COVID-19 medicines, which fell $1.4 billion year-over-year.

The British drugmaker’s total revenue from its oncology medicines rose nearly 20% while its Product Sales jumped 16%. The company’s reported EPS was $1.16 and its core EPS was $1.92, an increase of 6%.

Looking ahead, AstraZeneca sees ample opportunity in China, where total revenue is expected to grow by a low single-digit percentage in 2023. This comes months after the company in-licensed CMG901, an experimental antibody drug conjugate (ADC) for treating gastric cancer, from China-based biotech KYM Biosciences.

 “AstraZeneca had a strong start to 2023, with Total Revenue excluding COVID-19 medicines increasing 15%,” AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said in a statement. “Our performance in Emerging Markets was particularly strong and I am impressed by the growth and pace of innovation I see in China, which underscores the competitive advantage of our leading presence in this country.”

AstraZeneca also reiterated its full-year guidance for total revenue and core EPS.

Back in the U.S., Merck’s sales slipped 5% to $14.4 billion, its GAPP net income dropped 29% and its GAAP EPS fell 30%.

On the positive side, Keytruda sales were up 20%, totaling $5.8 billion, while Gardasil sales grew 35% to $2 billion. However, Lagevrio sales dropped 88% to $392 million.

Merck raised and narrowed its full-year guidance for worldwide sales, which is slated to be between $57.7 billion and $58.9 billion, while also lowering and narrowing its GAAP EPS to be between $6.88 and $7. 

“Our first-quarter results are a reflection of the focused execution of our science-led strategy, strong performance across our key growth drivers, continued momentum commercially and operationally, and – most importantly – the collective and dedicated efforts of our colleagues around the world,” Merck CEO Robert M. Davis said in a statement.I’m proud of the progress we’ve made, and we will continue to move with speed and agility to deliver value for patients and shareholders, now and well into the future.”

Merck released its financials days after announcing it would purchase Prometheus Biosciences for nearly $11 billion and acquire the company’s lead candidate, PRA023, an anti-TL1A drug for treating immune-mediated diseases. 

Finally, AbbVie’s adjusted earnings and net revenue fell during Q1, while the company’s quarterly revenue estimates for newer treatments missed the mark.

Contributing to worldwide net revenues that slid 9.7% were declines in net revenues from AbbVie’s immunology portfolio (9%), its hematologic oncology portfolio (14%) and its aesthetics portfolio, (5.4%). The company’s neuroscience portfolio broke with the trend and increased nearly 14%.

The company is raising its adjusted EPS guidance for the full-year to a range of $10.72 to $11.12. 

“This year is off to an excellent start, with first-quarter revenues and EPS ahead of our expectations, driven by strong commercial execution across all areas of our diversified portfolio,” AbbVie CEO Richard A. Gonzalez said in a statement. “These balanced results give us confidence to increase our full-year guidance and we see numerous opportunities for key assets to drive compelling long-term growth.”

For a January 2024 article rounding up Big Pharma Q4 earnings, click here.