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Lilly's profit soars as Cymbalta nears patent expiration

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Profit at Eli Lilly and Co. fell 9 percent in the third quarter but still easily beat the expectations of Wall Street analysts.

The Indianapolis-based drugmaker earned $1.2 billion in the three months ended Sept. 30, down from $1.3 billion in the same quarter last year. But results from last year were boosted by a payment from former Lilly partner Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Excluding that payment and other special charges, Lilly’s profit-per-share soared 41 percent, to $1.11, up from 79 cents per share a year ago.

Analysts had been expecting profit $1.04 per share, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

Lilly’s revenue during the quarter grew 6 percent compared with a year ago to reach $5.77 billion, just ahead of analysts’ predictions of $5.76 billion.

This was the last full quarter in which Lilly will maintain its U.S. patents on Cymbalta, its bestselling drug. Sales of the antidepressant grew 11 percent in the quarter to nearly $1.4 billion.

Lilly also posted double-digit sales gains in the third-quarter for its drugs Strattera and Effient and for its animal health products.

"As we navigate through a period of expiring patents for some of our largest products, Lilly continues to deliver solid financial results and to advance our late-stage pipeline, with four regulatory filings completed this year alone," Lilly CEO John Lechleiter said in a prepared statement.

Lilly narrowed its full-year profit forecast by lifting the low end of its predictions 5 cents per share. The company now expects to earn between $4.33 per share and $4.38 per share. Excluding special charges, Lilly expects to earn between $4.10 per share and $4.15 per share.

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