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Eli Lilly published first quarter earnings that were slightly ahead of expectations as it announced that its experimental breast cancer drug had succeeded in a late-stage clinical trial.

Indiana-based Lilly posted adjusted earnings of 98 cents per share, two cents ahead of Wall Street’s consensus forecast, on revenues that were in line with expectations of $5.2bn.

The group said it would seek regulatory approval this year for abemaciclib, its breast cancer drug, after the medicine extended the amount of time that a patient survived without their disease progressing in a Phase III study.

The trial success came after two high-profile setbacks for the company, which pulled the plug on its Alzheimer’s drug last year despite confidently predicting success.

And earlier this month the US Food and Drug Administration surprised analysts and investors by refusing to approve Lilly’s new arthritis drug, baricitinib, and demanded more data on safety and the appropriate dosage.

Lilly confirmed its full-year guidance for adjusted earnings per share between $4.05 and $4.15 on revenues of $21.8bn to $22.3bn.

However, it nudged down its estimates for unadjusted earnings per share to a range of $2.60 to $2.70 versus the previous $2.69 to $2.79, which it blamed on “severance costs incurred as a result of actions taken to reduce the company’s cost structure”.

Shares in the group were up 0.22 per cent in pre-market trading.

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