`

Company news

October 31, 2011

What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago, Eli Lilly and Co. stationed trucks filled with Xigris packages around the country, ready to rush supplies of the severe sepsis medicine to hospitals as soon as it won market approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. With the company having lost patent protection on its bestseller Prozac earlier that year, Lilly was desperate to get a new drug on the market. And Xigris, perceived as a breakthrough in a completely unserved market, was thought to be the ticket. Analysts thought the drug would generate as much as $2 billion per year in sales. But last week, Lilly announced it would pull Xigris from the market after a new study showed the drug failed to reduce mortality in patients. In between, Xigris never lived up to its hype. The FDA approved it for a narrower use, limiting its sales. Xigris generated $104 million in revenue last year. In May, Lilly licensed U.S. marketing rights for Xigris to a start-up company, BioCritica Inc.

WellPoint Inc.’s challenge of rate-increase reductions by insurance regulators in Maine will soon reach that state’s highest court—and could have ramifications across the country, according to a report by Kaiser Health News and the Washington Post. WellPoint’s subsidiary, Anthem Health Plans of Maine, will argue Nov. 10 before the Maine Supreme Court that the premium rate increases approved by Maine regulators were "inadequate," because they reduced its built-in profit margin of 3 percent to zero in 2009, 0.5 percent in 2010 and 1 percent this year. If the court sides with WellPoint, the decision "has the potential to destabilize a key aspect of insurance regulation and will have far reaching effects impacting all states,” according to a brief filed in support of the Maine regulators by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. And if WellPoint loses, it could encourage regulators in other states to make similarly aggressive rate reductions. WellPoint also sees national ramifications. The company is spreading the cost of the litigation to policyholders outside of Maine because the outcome could have "a big impact on the industry and not just Anthem," a company official testified during a hearing in April.

Purdue and Indiana universities will share a National Institutes of Health grant to launch a cancer advocacy network and for research on applying systems-engineering principles to cancer prevention and treatment. The $500,000 grant was awarded to Purdue and IU through their joint Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute project. As part of the project, Purdue and IU staff will identify and train recruiters to get more patients enrolled in clinical trials of new cancer treatments.

Third-quarter profit fell nearly 8 percent at WellPoint Inc. but exceeded expectations of Wall Street analysts. WellPoint earned $683.2 million or $1.90 per share. Excluding investment gains, the company would have earned $1.77 per share, 3 cents higher than in the third quarter last year. Analysts were expecting $1.68 per share, excluding investment gains, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters. WellPoint’s operating revenue in the quarter rose nearly 6 percent, to $15.16 billion, narrowly topping analysts’ forecast of $15.12 billion. The company pleased analysts by adding 169,000 new members to its insurance plan during the quarter.

Indianapolis-based Dow AgroSciences on Thursday reported record third-quarter sales of $1.2 billion, up 27 percent from the same period a year ago. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were $75 million in the quarter ended Sept. 30, reversing a $12 million loss through greater volume and higher prices. Dow Agro is a unit of Midland, Mich.-based Dow Chemical Co.

ADVERTISEMENT