Big Pharma Earnings Watch: Bristol-Myers Squibb

Apr 26, 2019

Trend Emerges: Bristol-Myers Squibb Joins Big Pharma Colleagues Beating First Quarter Profit Forecasts

Another Big Pharma company announced higher than expected earnings – the latest in a growing trend indicating the industry continues to rake in profits, while facing greater scrutiny for rising prescription drug prices.

Bristol-Myers Squibb reported better-than-expected earnings in the first quarter of 2019.  The company brought in $5.92 billion in revenue – $1.71 billion more than what it earned at the same time last year.

Like many of its Big Pharma colleagues, Bristol-Myers Squibb has been able to boost its profits by hiking prices on its drugs.

A recent report found the company raised prices on two of its best-selling drugs, Coumadin and Sustiva, 163 times from 2015 to 2019.

Bristol-Myers Squibb is also close to acquiring drug manufacturer Celgene in a $74 billion deal.  If successful, it would be the largest pharmaceutical industry merger ever.  Celgene has come under fire for particularly egregious price-gouging of its drugs, including Revlimid, a medication used to treat multiple myeloma.

Here’s what happened on the day of the merger announcement:

  • On The Same Day Bristol-Myers Squibb Announced Its Intention To Acquire Celgene, “Which Has Routinely Increased The Prices Of Its Top-Selling Drugs,” Celgene Hiked The Price Of The Dose Of Cancer Drug “Revlimid By 3.5 Percent To $719.82,” Compared With “$247.28 At The End Of 2007.” “On the same day Celgene Corp. was announcing that it would be acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. in the biggest pharma deal ever, the company was also raising the price of its blockbuster cancer drug.  The Summit, New Jersey-based biotechnology company, which has routinely increased the prices of its top-selling drugs, boosted the price of a 10-milligram dose of Revlimid by 3.5 percent to $719.82 effective Jan. 3, according to price data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence and First Databank.  Cancer patients need many doses of Revlimid a year, and the overall cost can approach $200,000.  The same dose cost $247.28 at the end of 2007.” (Rebecca Spalding, “Celgene Boosted The Price Of Its Top Cancer Drug On The Same Day Of Mega-Deal,” Bloomberg, 1/4/19)
  • Lawmakers Have Raised Concerns The Deal Would “Stifle Competition, Particularly In Cancer, Causing Drug Prices To Rise And Hurting Consumers.” (Arlene Weintraub, “Congressmen To Regulators: BMS-Celgene Merger Will Stifle Competition And Raise Drug Prices,” FiercePharma, 1/15/19)

Lack of competition is a key reason why drug prices keep climbing.  That’s why CSRxP encourages policymakers in Washington to keep the bipartisan momentum building behind market-based solutions to hold Big Pharma accountable, boost competition and lower prices.

Bristol-Myers Squibb joins drug makers AbbVie, Novartis and Johnson & Johnson in surpassing its first-quarter forecasts.  Read more about Novartis and Johnson & Johnson’s earnings HERE.

We’ll be examining more earnings from the world’s top drug manufacturers.  Stay tuned for reports from AstraZeneca, Sanofi, Amgen, Eli Lilly, Merck and Pfizer.