Switzerland’s Actelion has unveiled a profitable set of figures which reveal a sizeable cash pile, though sales of its lead drug Tracleer slowed down from the previous quarter.

Net profit for the first quarter reached 48.3 million Swiss francs compared to a loss of 150.0 million francs, though the latter included a charge of 224.8 million francs related to the company’s acquisition of CoTherix. Revenues climbed 10.7% to 321.6 million francs, the majority of which came from Tracleer (bosentan), for pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Tracleer sales were actually up 18% on the like, year-earlier period to 287.6 million francs but decreased 9% on a quarter-to-quarter basis. Actelion said that the fall from the fourth quarter of 2007 was simply due to buying pattern variations, similar to those seen in previous quarters.

Otto Schwarz, president of business operations, claimed that “adjusted for currencies, this is our second-best quarter ever for Tracleer. He added that “despite increasing competitive pressure in a maturing market place", the number of Tracleer-treated PAH patients “has continued to grow in all territories”.

Of the firm’s other products, Ventavis (iloprost), an inhaled therapy for the treatment of PAH fell 19% to 17.4 million francs, but sales of Zavesca (miglustat), for Gaucher disease, climbed 29.3% to 9.7 million francs. Chief executive Jean-Paul Clozel said that the firm has started the year well, and with the recent in-licensing of a novel PGI-2 receptor agonist from Japan’s Nippon Shinyaku, “we have further strengthened our role as the innovation leader in PAH”.

Tezosentan development abandoned
He claimed that all the firm’s clinical programmes continue on schedule, with the exception of tezosentan, which was partnered with Genentech. Mr Clozel confirmed that “we have decided to discontinue development of this compound, as the observed event rate and effect in a recently-concluded study in cardiac bypass separation was lower than expected and would have required far larger studies than anticipated”.

One of the most striking features about Actelion’s results was the cash pile the firm has amassed. Chief financial officer Andrew Oakley said the firm has more than 850 million francs on its balance sheet and “we intend to make best use of our liquidity”. He added that “we can further pursue in-licensing opportunities [and] we also have the means to manage future dilution, as done opportunistically in the past”.