US drugmaker Forest Laboratories has posted a 4.2% increase in fiscal first-quarter revenues to $966.8 million, helped by another strong performance from its flagship antidepressant Lexapro, though earnings suffered as a result of charges.

Net income was $242.9 million, or $0.79 per share, representing a decline of 9.4%. The firm noted that the fall was primarily due to a major hike in selling, general and administrative expenses (up 31.2% to $343 million) and a one-time charge of $44.1 million related to the termination of a partnership with Daiichi Sankyo to co-promote the latter’s antihypertensive Azor, a combination of Pfizer’s off-patent calcium channel blocker Norvasc (amlodipine) and the Japanese company’s angiotensin receptor blocker Benicar (olmesartan), in the USA,

As for the revenue rise, this was driven by Lexapro (escitalopram oxalate), which is licensed from Denmark’s Lundbeck. It contributed $583.1 million, a 5.6% increase year-on-year, while sales of Namenda (memantine), Forest’s N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist for the treatment of moderate and severe Alzheimer's disease, reached $218.6 million during the quarter, up 14%. Benicar brought in $52.4 million, flat on the same quarter last year.

Chief executive Howard Solomon said Forest is “striking the balance between delivering a meaningful level of earnings per share and continuing to support and advancing a very significant product pipeline”, while supporting the recent launch of the antihypertensive Bystolic (nebivolol). The company has two compounds under regulatory review at the US Food and Drug Administration – milnacipran for fibromyalgia and Lexapro in an additional indication in the treatment of adolescent depression.

During the quarter, Forest reported positive results from two Phase III studies of ceftaroline, a broad-spectrum cephalosporin with activity against gram-positive bacteria such as MRSA, for the treatment of complicated skin and skin structure infections. Mr Solomon noted that enrollment continues for ceftaroline in two Phase III studies for community-acquired pneumonia “and we anticipate those results in 2009."