Biotech and Pharma

Lilly misses estimates on weak demand, Covid drug development costs

Key Points
  • Eli Lilly missed analysts' expectations for third-quarter profit on Tuesday.
  • Results were hurt by lower demand for some its medicines and increased costs to develop Covid-19 treatments.
  • The drugmaker said it expects 2020 Covid-19 research and development expense to be roughly $400 million.

Eli Lilly fell short of analysts' expectations for third-quarter profit on Tuesday due to increased costs to develop COVID-19 therapies and lower demand for some its major drugs, including diabetes treatment Trulicity.

Lilly is one of the handful of companies racing to develop a treatment for Covid-19 and has sought emergency use authorization for its antibody treatment for mild to moderate patients as well as its arthritis drug baricitinib.

The results come a day after the company said no additional hospitalized Covid-19 patients would receive its treatment as data from a government-run trial suggested that the therapy was unlikely to help these patients recover.

The trial was paused earlier in the month due to safety concerns. The drugmaker said on Tuesday other trials of the coronavirus antibody therapy, bamlanivimab, remain on track.

It said more than 1,000 volunteers had been dosed in its clinical trial studying bamlanivimab as a monotherapy and in combination with another drug in people recently diagnosed with Covid-19 in a non-hospitalized setting.

Lilly said it expects 2020 Covid-19 research and development expense to be roughly $400 million, sending its shares down 4% before the opening bell. Overall operating expenses increased 9% to $3.04 billion in the third quarter.

Excluding items, the drugmaker earned $1.54 per share, below analysts' average estimate of $1.71 per share, according to IBES estimates from Refinitiv.

Revenue rose 5% to $5.74 billion in the quarter ended Sept. 30, but came in below the average estimate of $5.88 billion.

Lilly said it still anticipates 2020 revenue to be between $23.7 billion and $24.2 billion.

It, however, cautioned that achieving the higher end of the range would likely require the inclusion of moderate revenue from potential Covid-19 treatments, which is possible but not certain at this point.