After rough November, some good news for Lilly

This could take some of the sting out of Eli Lilly and Co.’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad November.

On Friday, the Indianapolis-based drugmaker got good news on a diabetes drug, just as it was still reeling from the failure of solanezumab, its much-anticipated drug for Alzheimer’s disease.

The good news: the Food and Drug Administration gave permission to Lilly and its partner, Boehringer Ingelheim, to claim that the diabetes drug, called Jardiance, can reduce the risk of cardiovascular death.

The news could be a huge boost for Jardiance, which is almost certain to see a rise in sales. Cardiovascular death is a leading cause of death in adults with type 2 diabetes, according to the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, death from cardiovascular disease is 70 percent higher in adults with diabetes compared to those without diabetes. Patients with diabetes have a decreased life expectancy, driven in large part by premature cardiovascular death.

The news comes about six months after an FDA panel found that Jardiance significantly reduced the risk of cardiovascular death, non-fatal heart attacks and non-fatal stroke.

The primary finding was driven by a 38-percent reduction in cardiovascular deaths. Heart complications prematurely kill many of the estimated 387 million diabetics worldwide.

Already, Jardiance is an up-and-coming drug that has seen brisk growth. It hit the market in 2014 as a treatment for Type 2 diabetes and was shown to lower the weight and blood pressure of patients in trials.

Lilly rang up $125.8 million in sales from Jardiance during the first nine months of 2016. That’s more than double the $45.8 million from the same period a year ago. The drug has a wholesale price of $343 a month, making it among the most expensive diabetes medicines.

Several pharmaceutical analysts expect the drug to become a blockbuster, breaking through the billion-dollar mark. Jami Rubin of Goldman Sachs is predicting Jardiance to provide Lilly revenue of $1.06 billion by 2019, increasing to $2.1 billion by 2025.

Lilly’s stock climbed about 2 percent Friday on the news. Shares slipped about 1 percent in midday trading Monday, to $65.95 each.

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