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Bristol-Myers: 60 drugs in testing to boost sales

Thu, 03/04/2010 - 8:17am
LINDA A. JOHNSON - AP Business Writer - Associated Press

Executives at Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. told analysts Thursday at a business briefing that the drugmaker has 60 potential drugs in development, seven in late-stage studies.

The company said it expects future revenue from those medicines and growing sales from existing drugs to help offset an expected plunge in Plavix sales in 2012. That's when U.S. generic competition will start slashing sales of the $6 billion-a-year blood thinner, the world's second-best-selling drug.

The New York-based company's strategy aims to replace those revenues with new drug sales to maintain profits.

Earlier Thursday, Bristol-Myers forecast its earnings per share in 2013 would be at least $1.95, a little more than analysts expected. That boosted Bristol shares slightly, by a dime to $24.43 in early afternoon trading.

Key drugs in development include the blood thinner apixaban, organ transplant drug belatacept, cancer drug brivanib, diabetes drug dapagliflozin and skin cancer drug ipilimumab.

The business briefing is the first since December 2007, when Chief Executive James M. Cornelius unveiled a strategy dubbed String of Pearls to divest noncore operations such as the Mead Johnson nutrition business and transformed Bristol-Myers into a biopharmaceutical leader. Toward that end, the company has been buying biotech drugs and businesses, including a deal announced Wednesday to pay Allergan $40 million up front and potentially several hundred million dollars more for the rights to its drug to treat chronic pain caused by tissue damage.

And on Tuesday, the company announced a CEO change.

Cornelius, who had run Bristol-Myers for 3 1/2 years, will retire in May but remain chairman of the company's board. The board chose Chief Operating Officer Lamberto Andreotti, 59, to take over from Cornelius.

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