Almirall has posted a healthy set of financials for the first quarter which show that net income shot up 40.8%, and the Spanish drugmaker says that it is looking at acquisitions.

Net income was 63.8 million euros, driven by the sale of 13 products to Spanish generics firm Kern Pharma and were up 8.8% excluding that item at 49.5 million euros. Revenues were up 2.8% to 245.0 million euros, boosted by a 22% rise in sales of the antihistamine Ebastel (ebastine) to 39.6 million euros.

Among the products Almirall sells under licence in Spain, there were strong performances for the cholesterol drug Prevencor (atorvastatin), up 15% to 29.2 million euros and the anti-depressant Esertia (escitalopram), sales of which increased 14.8% to 15.0 million euros. Revenues from Almirall’s own migraine treatment Almorgran (almotriptan) were flat at 14.8 million euros.

The company also gave special mention to Solaraze (diclofenac) for actinic keratosis, which is licensed from SkyePharma and enjoyed a 54.3% sales rise to 4.9 million euros. Almirall has also just started selling Pfizer’s cardiovascular drug Caduet (atorvastatin/amlodipine) under the brand name Astucor and Merck & Co’s type 2 diabetes combination drug Janumet (sitagliptin plus metformin) as Efficib.

Last week the Barcelona-headquartered group signed a European licensing deal with Ironwood Pharma for the US firm’s linaclotide, a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome, which will begin Phase III trials this year. Under the terms of the agreement, Almirall has paid an upfront fee of $40 million and will make additional milestone payments, plus a $15 million equity investment in Ironwood.

As for its pipeline, Almirall says that new Phase II and III trials have begun on the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease drug aclidinium bromide aimed at meeting the requirements of regulators in the USA and Europe. The company and US partner Forest Laboratories had planned to submit the drug in the fourth quarter of 2009 or the first quarter of 2010 for approval but dosing studies will delay that.

Almirall added that it is “still maintaining conversations for alliances or partnerships” for aclidinium and for LAS100977, a COPD/asthma treatment. The firm concluded by saying that it is also “studying selective possibilities for new acquisitions”.

The results went down well with investors and Almirall shares ended the day up 4.7% at 7.79 euros.