Company news

June 30, 2010

Eli Lilly and Co. released a raft of studies Monday about its newest diabetes medicines, Byetta and its once-weekly cousin Bydureon, which has yet to win market approval from regulators. The upshot of the studies: Patients have lower blood-sugar levels on Bydureon than those on competing drugs or, if they don’t, they lose more weight on Bydureon. Also, Lilly and its development partner on Byetta, Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc., issued a study of 25,000 patients that concluded the drug causes inflammation of the pancreas no more than other diabetes medicines. In late 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration publicized and raised concerns over a few patients who died of pancreatitis while on Byetta, but did not conclude the drug causes pancreatitis. Meanwhile, at least one analyst predicted Indianapolis-based Lilly would acquire San Diego-based Amylin in the next two or three years.

Good news for orthopedic implant companies: Industry bellwether Biomet Inc. recorded a 10-percent spike in sales during the three months ended May 31, the Warsaw-based company announced Monday. Its peers, including Warsaw-based Zimmer Holdings Inc., will report their financial results about a month from now. Biomet enjoyed strong sales growth in its bread-and-butter hip and knee replacements. Hip sales rose 10 percent and knee sales jumped 15 percent. Sales were boosted by about 2 percent due to favorable foreign exchange rates compared with a year ago. Sales for the quarter totaled $703 million, up from $639 million during the same quarter a year ago.

WellPoint Inc. expects the health insurance market to become an “oligopoly,” according to a presentation by the company’s vice president of investor relations. Michael Kleinman told investors last week in Boston that the health reform law is moving the industry even more quickly toward dominance by just a few players. “There are going to be smaller insurers that are not going to be able to survive in this marketplace,” he said. Indianapolis-based WellPoint already insures 33 million Americans, or about one in nine. The company’s chief financial officer, Wayne DeVeydt, said previously that he expected to be able to acquire smaller insurers, but not until after health reform fades a bit as a political issue.