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Bristol-Myers Profit Jumps on Higher Drug Revenue

Bristol-Myers Squibb Thursday said third-quarter earnings more than doubled on higher drug revenue, including a strong rebound for its Plavix blood-clot preventer, and raised its 2007 profit forecast.

Profit rose to $858 million, or 43 cents per share, from $338 million, or 17 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding special items, Bristol-Myers earned 38 cents per share. Analysts on average were expecting 36 cents, according to Reuters Estimates.

Quarterly revenue jumped almost 22 percent to $5.05 billion -- a smidgen above Wall Street forecasts -- as sales of Plavix almost doubled to $1.25 billion.

Plavix, sold in partnership with French drugmaker Sanofi Aventis, had suffered because of a generic launched in August 2006 by Apotex. Although a New York federal judge blocked continued the sale of the cheaper version weeks later, the huge supplies already on the market undermined sales of Plavix through early 2007.

Sales of blood pressure treatment Avapro rose 12 percent to $309 million, while sales of colon cancer drug Erbitux grew 6 percent to $185 million.

Schizophrenia treatment Abilify, helped by its tendency not to cause weight gains seen in rival drugs, soared 34 percent to $420 million. HIV treatments Sustiva and Reyataz, aided by their convenient once-daily dosing regimens, jumped 18 percent and 17 percent, respectively, for combined quarterly sales of $510 million.

But cancer drug Taxol and cholesterol treatment Pravachol suffered quarterly sales declines of 26 percent and 55 percent, respectively, due to generic competition.

Based on favorable trends, Bristol raised its full-year 2007 earnings forecast to a range of $1.42 to $1.47 per share, excluding special items. It had previously projected $1.35 to $1.45.

The new forecast translates into growth of up to 35 percent from last year, when Plavix sales crumbled under the generic onslaught.

Shares of Bristol-Myers rose late on Wednesday after rival Eli Lilly said it had stopped enrollment in two small trials of its experimental blood-clot preventer prasugrel, which was being tested against Plavix.

Lilly said the suspension of the two trials was unlikely to delay U.S. approval of prasugrel. However, industry analysts said on Thursday that the news had magnified their worries of whether the drug will beat Plavix in a very large Lilly trial, whose results will be unveiled on Nov. 4.

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