We're a little over a year away from Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY ) losing U.S. patent protection on its top-selling Plavix, and the company looks to be in pretty good shape.
Well, in as good a shape as a company can be facing the loss of a third of total sales.
It's going to be tough for newly launched drugs to make up for the $1.7 billion per quarter that Bristol and marketing partner sanofi-aventis (NYSE: SNY ) produce selling Plavix, but Bristol is giving its best shot. Sales of Sprycel, which treats leukemia, jumped 31%. Baraclude, for hepatitis B, grew 27%. Rheumatoid arthritis treatment Orencia rose 18%.
Not every new drug is on fire. Sales of diabetes treatment Onglyza and its sister Kombiglyze increased 800%, but that's just a factor of the slow start the franchise had. The drugs still only combined to sell $81 million in the first quarter, a far cry from Merck's (NYSE: MRK ) competing Januvia franchise, which has quarterly sales approaching $1 billion.
While Bristol still has Plavix, it's ramping up sales of other drugs and ramping down costs in anticipation of the loss of Plavix. The company's jogging along on an upward path. Sales were up 4% year over year as were adjusted earnings.
The real key to whether Bristol can make the transition successfully will be the drugs in its advanced pipeline. Melanoma treatment Yervoy was approved in the U.S. last month. Blood thinner Eliquis, which Bristol is developing with Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) , is on its way to being approved in Europe. Ditto for Nulojix for kidney transplants.
None are likely to reach the multibillion-dollar levels that Plavix has obtained, but combined -- and with the help of some other drugs in late-stage testing -- they should be able to make up for the loss.
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