MARION CARDIZEM INCREASING USE BY NON-CARDIOLOGISTS SPARKS STRONG THIRD QUARTER EARNINGS JUMP; OTC IBUPROFEN HURTS UPJOHN AND STERLING RESULTS
Marion's Cardizem (diltiazem) roll-out beyond the cardiovascular specialty field sparked strong volume and net earnings growth in the three months ended Sept. 30. "Cardizem, now with a 30% market share among calcium channel blockers, is Marion's leading product. While acceptance by cardiologists continues to increase, an increasing percentage of Rxs of Cardizem from non-specialists is now a major force in the growth of the product," the firm said in an Oct. 19 report on operations in the first quarter. During the period, Marion earnings were $8 mil., up 45% from $5.5 mil. in the same period a year ago, while sales of $63.7 mil. increased by 26% over last year's $50.7 mil. While the strong results were attributed "primarily to the consistent sales growth of Cardizem," the firm said that it also reflected "aggressive management control of expenses." Sterling's proprietary products volume dipped 16% in the July-Sept. period, reflecting the initial impact of the introduction of ibuprofen into the OTC analgesics market. During the quarter, Sterling proprietary products sales were $67 mil., compared to $79.4 mil. in 1983. Corporate volume of $484.9 mil. was down 5% from $512.6 mil. in the same period last year. The slump in proprietary products also restrained overall net profit, which gained only 1% during the quarter compared to last year ($45.2 mil. v. $44.8 mil.). Upjohn's Defensive Price Cut For Mitrin Leads To 28% Plunge In Third Quarter Earnings Sterling's pharmaceutical specialties segment advanced 6% in volume during the three months, to $70.2 mil. from $66.1 mil. last year. Sterling said the gain "was aided by the initial sales of Inocor brand of amrinone," which was approved earlier this summer for the short term treatment of patients after congestive heart failure. For the nine months, Sterling volume was down 2% to $1.38 bil. from $1.42 bil. in the same period last year. Net income, however, was up 5% to $106.1 mil. compared to $101.3 mil. in 1983. Also suffering in the third quarter from the effects of the OTC ibuprofen launch was Upjohn, which noted that the price cut for its Rx ibuprofen Motrin was the main factor in the company's 28% net earnings decline during the third quarter. Third quarter net earnings fell to $27 mil. compared to $37 mil. last year, and Upjohn Chairman R. T. Parfet noted that "as expected, sales of Motrin were down this quarter, adversely affecting earnings. We have priced Motrin so that it is in a better competitive position." Faced with encroachment on its Rx Motrin by OTC ibuprofen products marketed by American Home Products and -- via license from Upjohn -- Bristol-Myers, Upjohn slashed Motrin prices by as much as 30% earlier this year. In its Oct. 16 press release, Upjohn noted that "sales of Motrin, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent, were well below last year's levels. Lower selling price and high retail and whsle. inventories of the drug, accumulated earlier in 1984 through special promotion, adversely affected sales." Third quarter earnings were further reduced, the firm explained, by an increase in the effective tax rate to 34% compared to 29% during the third quarter last year. "The higher estimated tax rate resulted primarily from a lesser proportion of total earnings from tax-exempt Puerto Rican operations than occurred a year ago," Upjohn declared. The company said that "sales of worldwide human health care products and services increased $20 mil., or 6% from third quarter 1983. Major U.S. products contributing to the sales gain were: Xanax, the anti-anxiety agent; Halcion, the sleep-inducer; Tolinase, the oral anti-diabetic agent; Nuprin, the non-prescription form of ibuprofen marketed by Bristol-Myers; and Cleocin phosphate, the antibiotic for treatment of anaerobic infection." Total sales for the period were $511 mil. ($337 mil. in U.S.), up 7% from $477 mil. in the same period a year ago. For the nine months, Upjohn consolidated volume hit $1.7 bil., up 12% from the $1.5 bil. in 1983. Net earnings of $139 mil. were up 10% from the $126 mil. in the first nine months last year. Merck's third quarter volume was up 8% to $857.8 from $797.7 in the same period a year ago. Earnings advanced 11% to $120.8 mil. compared to $109 mil. in 1983. The third quarter gains were consistent with advances in earlier quarters, and the firm noted that both its volume ($2.59 bil.) and net income ($377.3 mil.) for the nine months ended Sept. 30 advanced 9% compared to the same period last year ($2.4 bil. and $346 mil., respectively). The firm singled out several of its drugs for special mention as strong performers during the year, including: the injectable antibiotic Mefoxin; Timoptic for glaucoma; Moduretic, a potassiumsparing diuretic; Dolobid, the non-narcotic long-acting analgesic; and Noroxin, the antibacterial for urinary tract infections that is being marketed in 12 foreign countries. Chart omitted.
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