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PFIZER's U.S. DRUG SALES JUMP 17% IN FIRST QUARTER, BUT OVERALL SALES ARE FLAT; STERLING's OTC SALES SLIP 11% FROM CONTINUED PRESSURE ON ANALGESICS

Executive Summary

Pfizer's U.S. pharmaceutical sales jumped 17% in the first quarter, the company reported. In addition, "hospital products, excluding sales of the divested dental business, increased 14%" to help fuel an overall 5% sales gain by Pfizer's health care segment. Pfizer's corporate sales were up 2.8% to $945.7 mil. accompanied by a 15.3% gain in net earnings to $147.3 mil. Commenting on the first quarter figures, Pfizer Chairman Edmund Pratt asserted that the "strong performance of the domestic health care business in the first quarter was offset by a decline in overseas results due to the strong dollar." Excluding the effects of the dollar, worldwide sales would have increased 7% and net earnings 20%, Pfizer said. Citing a "very competitive environment currently prevailing in the U.S. OTC analgesics market," Sterling reported that first quarter sales of its proprietary products were off 11% to $62.8 mil. However, while Sterling's overall sales were down 5.8% to $415.7 mil., net income rose 3.4%, reflecting a decline in the company's effective corporate tax rate and an improvement in operating efficiencies, the firm said. Upjohn's U.S. volume slipped 5% in the first quarter to $362 mil., while foreign sales were flat at $184 mil. Corporate net earnings dropped 21% to $52 mil. on a 3% sales gain to $545.5 mil. "Dramatic" volume increases by Xanax and Halcion offset "much" of the continued decline in Motrin sales, Upjohn said in its April 16 financial statement. Because of the Motrin decline, worldwide sales of Upjohn's health care products and services were off "slightly" in the first quarter, the firm explained. The quarterly report indicated that Motrin continued to suffer from increased competition, pharmacy substitution, and a lower selling price compared to 1984. The quarterly difference was further accentuated, Upjohn said, by a promotion in 1984 which resulted in record sales. Commenting on its other health products, Upjohn said that Cleocin posted "strong" growth in the U.S. and Japan. Although sales of Tolinase were off from 1984, the company's second generation oral hypoglycemic Micronase "continued to grow at an excellent rate," Upjohn reported. The firm added that Lincocin sales fell due to competition in Japan and "removal from the govt. purchasing list in Iran." Reporting a 14% net earnings increase, to $160.9 mil., on a flat 2% sales gain to $908.8 mil., Lilly highlighted its oral cephalosporin business in the U.S., and its biosynthetic insulin Humulin. Sales growth was due, Chairman Richard Wood said, primarily "to strong sales of pharmaceutical products in the U.S. Oral antibiotics, in particular, showed good sales gains reflecting the high incidence of respiratory illnesses during the quarter." Wood reported that Humulin "continued to show excellent growth, both in the U.S. and abroad." The Lilly chairman added that despite the strong dollar, pharmaceutical sales increased abroad.
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