It's never a good sign when a lead drug's sales growth starts to deteriorate, but for one-hit wonders such as Amylin Pharmaceuticals
Sales of diabetes drug Byetta, which Amylin comarkets with Eli Lilly
Amylin's other drug, Symlin for diabetics, saw sales shoot up 30% year over year. Customers are clearly digging the new convenient pen injector. Unfortunately sales of Symlin only contribute about 10% of revenue, so the increase doesn't move the needle much.
The weak revenue growth plus increased spending as the company prepares its once-weekly version of Byetta led to a net loss of almost $69 million. Fortunately, Amylin still has more than $1 billion in cash reserves on the balance sheet, so it won't run out anytime soon.
Even so, Amylin really needs to kick it into high gear during the last three quarters of this year. It's in a race to get as many diabetic patients on Byetta before Novo Nordisk
What will really help Amylin recruit patients is its once-weekly version of Byetta, but ... that drug is still more than a year away.
Amylin is taking steps to help this more patient-friendly drug compete once it's approved for sale. For instance, the company is running a pair of studies designed to show that the drug works better than Merck's
Right now, Amylin is just treading water. It needs to perk up -- quickly -- or else it's likely headed to the bottom of the ocean to hang out with other shipwrecked drug developers.