- Associated Press - Thursday, July 23, 2015

Surging sales for new cancer, heart and hepatitis C medicines helped drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. beat Wall Street expectations, and it boosted its 2015 profit forecast.

Still, a sizeable acquisition charge triggered a steep tax bill and a $130 million net loss in the second quarter.

The report comes amid a spate of recent positive science and regulatory news, particularly for the company’s star biologic cancer drug, Opdivo. Among other news, it was approved Monday for advanced lung cancer in the European Union, where it got approval for advanced melanoma in June - both uses for it was approved in the U.S. over the past seven months.

Opdivo and three-year-old biologic skin cancer drug Yervoy have made big strides in extending lives of patients with some of the deadliest cancers after decades without any advances. They’ve given the New York-based drugmaker an edge in the hot, multibillion-dollar field of immuno-oncology - drugs that stimulate the immune system to better battle cancer.

Bristol-Myers’ recent purchase of startup Flexus Biosciences Inc. resulted in an $869 million charge, plus most of the tax bill and quarterly loss. But it gives Bristol-Myers a company trying to develop immuno-oncology drugs with a different mechanism than Opdivo and Yervoy.

Excluding the acquisition charge and other one-time items, Bristol-Myers posted adjusted income of $890 million, or 53 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet were expecting 36 cents, on average.

The $130 million net loss amounted to 8 cents per share. In 2014’s second-quarter, Bristol-Myers posted net income of $333 million, or 20 cents per share.

“We had a very good quarter, with strong sales across our portfolio, encouraging results from clinical trial and important regulatory milestones,” new CEO Dr. Giovanni Caforio said in a statement, adding that the company has a “tremendous opportunity” in immuno-oncology.

Quarterly revenue rose 7 percent, despite an 81 percent plunge in sales for former top seller Abilify, for psychiatric conditions. The company’s rights to those sales reverted to former partner Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. As of April 20.

Bristol-Myers said revenue would have been up 16 percent if not for unfavorable currency exchange rates. Some rivals have been blaming the strong dollar, which reduces the value of products sold overseas in local currencies, for their own sales sliding recently.

Together, Opdivo and Yervoy produced sales of $418 million, while the new hepatitis C franchise led by Daclinza posted sales of $479 million. Eliquis, for preventing blood clots and heart attacks, saw sales skyrocket to $437 million, from $171 million.

Bristol-Myers Squibb shares slipped 15 cents to $69.22 in morning trading Thursday. Its shares are up 40 percent over the past year.


Follow Linda A. Johnson at www.twitter.com/LindaJ_onPharma

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