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Lilly 4Q profit falls 12 pct, hurt by patent loss

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Eli Lilly and Co.'s fourth-quarter earnings dropped 12 percent as the drugmaker lost U.S. patent protection for its top-selling product, and cheaper generic competition started to eat away at results.

The Indianapolis company lost protection for the antidepressant Cymbalta late in the quarter on Dec. 10, but revenue from the drug still wound up falling 38 percent to $883.2 million, the company said Thursday.

The drugmaker known for its portfolio of diabetes and cancer treatments also will lose patent protection for the osteoporosis treatment Evista in March. It expects a substantial decline in both earnings and revenue this year due to the patent losses before returning to growth in 2015.

Lilly has long warned of this performance drop and has said its recovery will depend, in part, on its pipeline of drugs under development

In the fourth quarter, Lilly earned $727.5 million, or 67 cents per share. That compares to $827.2 million, or 74 cents per share, in the 2012 quarter. Adjusted results for the 2013 quarter totaled 74 cents per share.

Revenue slipped 2 percent to $5.81 billion.

Analysts expected, on average, earnings of 73 cents per share on $5.46 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.

Lilly still forecasts 2014 adjusted earnings of between $2.77 and $2.85 per share. Analysts expect $2.81 per share.

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