Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) investors who were looking for some good news from the drug maker's first quarter got it today. Excluding a onetime charge, the company blew past earnings and sales estimates. However, one of its strongest drugs is losing some ground, making those in its pipeline more crucial.

The drug maker warned about the "substantial" charge to this quarter's earnings related to its acquisition of Applied Molecular Evolution last quarter. Including the $362.3 million charge, earnings came in at $400.4 million, or $0.37 per share, as compared to $407 million, or $0.38 per share, in the same quarter last year.

However, if you take out the charge, Eli Lilly's earnings were $762.7 million, or $0.70 per share, beating analysts' consensus expectation for earnings of $0.66 per share. Revenues increased 17% to $3.38 billion, exceeding analysts' expectations for sales of $3.23 billion.

Lots of its revenue growth was attributed to established, major products, like schizophrenia drug Zyprexa, osteoporosis med Evista, and cancer drug Gemzar. Zyprexa is particularly important because it represented one-third of revenues last year.

However, much has been made of the competitive forces facing Zyprexa. This quarter, Zyprexa's sales were up 15%, related to several variables including buying from institutions. At the same time, the drug had a lower prescription volume in retail, due to what the company called "increased competitive pressures." Other schizophrenia drugs include Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE:JNJ) Risperdal. In November, a study was publicized that brought up the possibility that an older schizophrenia drug, haloperidol or Haldol, is as effective as Zyprexa.

Eli Lilly said that it still expects regulatory approval of long-awaited depression drug Cymbalta so it can spring a summer launch. There's lots hinged on Cymbalta, with expectations that it could be Eli Lilly's newest blockbuster. Recent flak about antidepressants' relationship with suicide -- including a February suicide that took place during Cymbalta trials -- could throw a wrench into the works, but in Eli Lilly's conference call (courtesy of CCBN StreetEvents), the company claimed little regulatory effect from the controversy.

With expectations that Cymbalta could pull in about $2 billion in sales, it would do a lot to fire up earnings growth as well as offset loss of revenues from other products. It may be hard to ignore the recent FDA scrutiny of antidepressants as well as the media coverage linking Eli Lilly's promising drug to such controversy. The company may have a robust pipeline, but there are still industry and competitive considerations that put some risk into the picture.

Looking for stocks with a lower profile than Big Pharma names? Join the search for such uncovered stocks by taking a 30-day free trial of Motley Fool Hidden Gems .

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.