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Lilly forecasts sales, profit drop in face of rival generic drugs

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Eli Lilly and Co., the leading U.S. maker of diabetes products, on Tuesday forecast a drop in 2014 profit and reduced its sales outlook because of generic competition to the its Cymbalta antidepressant and Evista drug for osteoporosis.

Sales will be between $19.2 billion and $19.8 billion, while profit will range from $2.77 to $2.85 a share, the Indianapolis-based company said in a prepared statement.

Analysts had predicted $19.6 billion in sales and profit of $2.78 a share, based on the average of 17 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Lilly said in October that meeting its projection of at least $20 billion in sales in 2014 would be difficult. The company lost patent protection on Cymbalta, its best-selling drug, last month, leading to expectations that revenue will decline to its lowest level since 2007.

“We expect 2014 to be the most financially challenging year of Lilly’s current period of patent expirations,” Chief Financial Officer Derica Rice said in the statement.

The company plans to increase sales starting next year as it brings new products to market. Five Lilly drugs are being reviewed by regulators, and eight more are in the final of three stages of testing required before U.S. approval, according to the company’s web site.

Cymbalta generated $4.99 billion in 2012. Its 2014 sales are projected by analysts to fall to $1.43 billion. Revenue from Evista is expected to drop to $498.6 million this year from an estimated $997.1 million in 2013, according to analysts.

Lilly shares gained less than 1 percent, to $51.53 each, on Monday.

The shares had increased 1 percent in the the past 12 months through Monday, compared with a rise of 36 percent in the Standard & Poor’s Pharmaceuticals Index.

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