Byetta Boosts Amylin's Sales

Also, the company's quarterly loss is narrower than expected.
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Updated from 4:57 p.m. EDT

Amylin Pharmaceuticals

(AMLN)

beat Wall Street estimates for the third quarter as losses were narrower and sales were higher than analysts had expected.

The diabetes-drug maker said it lost $46.1 million, or 36 cents a share, on revenue of $147 million for the three months ended Sept. 30. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting a loss of 45 cents a share on revenue of $136.5 million.

For the same period last year, San Diego-based Amylin lost $69.5 million, or 65 cents a share, on revenue of $25.9 million.

The big revenue gain is due primarily to Byetta, a twice-a-day injectable drug derived from the saliva of the Gila monster. The blood-sugar control drug, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in April 2005, delivered $126.4 million in sales, better than what many analysts had expected.

Amylin's marketing partner for Byetta is

Eli Lilly

(LLY) - Get Report

. The companies are working with

Alkermes

(ALKS) - Get Report

to develop a once-a-week injectable version of the drug.

Another diabetes treatment, Symlin, which Amylin markets by itself, produced third-quarter sales of $12.4 million.

Sales of Byetta and Symlin are going so well that Amylin raised its full-year sales guidance to "more than $500 million" from "more than $475 million."

Ginger Graham, Amylin's chief executive, said total prescriptions for Byetta grew 20% between the second quarter and third quarter, even though there was a shortage of drug-filled cartridges earlier in the year. Demand outpaced supply for the cartridges, which are part of the prefilled injection pens used to administer Byetta. The matter was corrected in August.

Graham said she expects Byetta to receive approval in the European Union next year. Last month, an EU medical advisory committee endorsed the drug. She said patients are being enrolled in a clinical study for the once-a-week version of Byetta, and results are expected during the second half of next year.

Additionally, Graham addressed the concerns of some analysts that Byetta faces a big challenge from

Merck's

(MRK) - Get Report

newly approved diabetes treatment Januvia. The Merck drug is

a once-a-day pill. The FDA also is expected to rule soon on a Januvia competitor from

Novartis

(NVS) - Get Report

.

"We welcome them," she said, adding that these drugs, which belong to a different class of compounds than Byetta, will increase physicians' and patients' discussions about therapeutic options. She said she is "very confident" that Byetta will perform well among existing and future competitors.

The company issued its financial report after the markets closed. In regular trading, Amylin rose 41 cents to $47.45. After hours, the stock lost $1.20.