* Cipralex sales less-than-expected in tougher competition
* Q3 EBIT falls to 784 mln DKK vs mean forecast 745 mln
* Shares down 3 pct
* Repeats 2009 sales, earnings outlook
(Adds details, quotes)
COPENHAGEN, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Pharmaceutical group H. Lundbeck A/S LUN.CO posted disappointing third-quarter sales of blockbuster Cipralex, sending its shares down despite strong cost controls that gave it a less-than-expected fall in profit.
The Danish group generates most of its revenue from its antidepressant Cipralex -- sold in the United States as Lexapro. However, the patents on the drug will expire in major markets between 2012 and 2014 so the firm is trying to replace it with new products.
Lundbeck said sales of Cipralex missed forecasts in part due to structural market changes in Turkey and increased competition for Cipralex in Australia where imitations of a rival drug were launched.
Shares in Lundbeck were down 2.8 percent at 1109 GMT, underperforming the wider market in Copenhagen .OMXC20.
Michael Friis Jorgensen, pharmaceuticals analyst at Alm. Brand, said the Cipralex sales caused concern about Lundbeck’s sales growth even before its main patents expire.
“First and foremost, we are disappointed with (Cipralex) sales growth,” he said. “They have started to feel Australian competition, and the tunes from the United States are also not overly positive.”
Operating profit fell to 784 million Danish crowns ($156 million) in the July-September period from 852 million in the same quarter last year, but held above a mean forecast of 745 million crowns in a Reuters poll of analysts.
“They really are in control of their costs. Profits are therefore better than expected despite lower sales (than expected),” said Rune Dahl, pharmaceuticals analyst at Sydbank.
Net sales rose to 3.26 billion crowns against a forecast for 3.39 billion and a year-earlier 2.81 billion.
Cipralex sales rose to 1.26 billion from 1.23 billion a year earlier, missing an average forecast of 1.35 billion.
Lundbeck stood by its outlook for 2009 sales of 13.1 billion to 13.6 billion crowns and operating profits of 2.8 billion to 3.0 billion.
It said its position had strengthened in virtually all of its markets, and its key products continued to gain market shares around the world.
Lundbeck Inc, which Lundbeck formed from its Ovation acquisition to boost sales and build a North American platform, reported quarterly revenues of 359 million crowns.
“We have continued great expectations for the U.S. market, not the least due to the launch of Sabril,” Chief Financial Officer Anders Gotzsche said in an email statement.
Lundbeck said trials and planning of subsequent clinical trials for candidate drug Lu AA21004 for the treatment of mood disorders, in cooperation with its Japanese partner Takeda Pharmaceuticals 4502.T, were progressing according to plan.
It said quarterly group costs rose 5 percent year-on-year excluding costs related to Lundbeck Inc and costs related to staff cuts. ($1=5.038 Danish Crown) (Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; editing by Karen Foster) (Reporting by Copenhagen Newsroom; editing by Simon Jessop)