How's the health of Big Pharma? Not bad, judging from Pfizer, Eli Lilly and Wyeth results. Still, the drug market leaders could use some diet and exercise, here and there ...
"Despite our best efforts, Exubera has failed to gain the acceptance of patients and physicians," Chief Executive Jeff Kindler said in a release. "We have therefore concluded that further investment in this product is unwarranted."
That cost the drug maker $2.8 billion in the third quarter. It was also hurt by declining sales of cholesterol fighter Lipitor and generic competition for many of Pfizer's other medicines.
Still, excluding special items profit was 58 cents per share for the world's largest drug maker. Analysts on average expected 52 cents, according to Reuters Estimates. (Full report on Pfizer's results here).
The Indianapolis-based drugmaker on Thursday posted a 6 percent rise in quarterly profit on higher sales of newer prescription drugs, including its Cymbalta anti-depressant. It also raised its 2007 forecast, saying it expects sales growth to outpace operating expenses.
Lilly CEO John Lechleiter said on this morning's "Squawk Box" that the company has made progress developing several of its drugs awaiting Food and Drug Administration approval, and is expecting the momentum to carry over to solid fourth-quarter results.
"We’ve gotten great top-line performance this year," Lechleiter said. "This is the best volume growth that we’ve had since 2001."
Excluding a charge of 6 cents per share related to insurance recoveries, Lilly earned 91 cents per share. Analysts on average expected 87 cents, according to Reuters Estimates. (Full story on Lilly's results here.)
Wyeth said Thursday that third-quarter earnings fell slightly, hurt by charges tied to productivity initiatives that offset higher sales of its pharmaceutical products.
Wyeth , which has endured a string of setbacks to its experimental drugs, also launched a $5 billion stock buyback program. (Read full Wyeth report here).
In a report late Wednesday, Swiss drugmaker Novartis's third-quarter net profit missed forecasts, dropping by 12 percent to $1.57 billion, weighed down by the launch of rival generic versions of its drugs and a one-off charge.
But its shares opened 0.5 percent higher, as markets reacted positively to 1,260 job cuts in the United States and analysts said the underlying business still looked sound.
"The weaker third-quarter results mark the bottoming out for Novartis, in our opinion," said Philipp Buchli, a fund manager at Q Investments in Zurich. (Read more about Novartis here).