Eli Lilly has a lot riding of prasugrels success

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Eli Lilly is depending on the success of its experimental clot-prevention drug prasugrel, according to the Nov. 16 issue of Barron’s.

Many investors were keen to hear the results of the comparative trial of prasugrel against Plavix, “the $5 billion-a-year Bristol-Myers product that is today's standard in clot-prevention, as well as the world's second-biggest-selling drug” at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions earlier this week in Orlando, Fla.

As Cardiovascular Business reported two weeks ago, the Triton study results were mixed. The study found that prasugrel, reduces heart attacks and strokes, but has a higher bleeding rate compared to Plavix for patients who have undergone percutaneous coronary intervention.

Based on the results, Barron’s reported that “doctors may be too skittish of Prasugrel bleeds to make it Lilly's next blockbuster.”

“We were not expecting major bleeds,” Jami Rubin, Morgan Stanley analyst, told Barron’s. Rubin had initially projected prasugrel revenues might approach $1 billion, and has now cut that number in half but concluded: “It's going to be a niche product for Lilly.”

J. Anthony Ware, head of cardiovascular research of the Indianapolis-based Lilly, said that cardiologists will accept that trade-off because most bleeds cause no permanent damage as heart attacks do, Barron’s reported.

Lilly believes it can submit prasugrel for U.S. approval by year’s end, and if it gets an FDA nod, Lilly could see its first sales from the product in 2008.

Barron’s concluded that Lilly shares currently “look like dead money” following mixed trial results; they could drop another 10 percent if the product doesn't generate sales. Rubin predicted that Lilly revenue will head toward the “cliffs over the next five years” without a triumphantly successful product.