Intercell has posted a 19.9% rise in revenues for the third quarter but disappointing sales of Ixiaro, its Japanese encephalitis vaccine, mean that the Austrian biotechnology firm will end 2009 in the red.

Revenues came in at 9.2 million euros, while its net loss increased to 14.7 millions compared with 5.1 million euros in the like, year-earlier period. The rise was primarily due to an increase in R&D expenses (up 8.9% to 17.0 million euros) and sales, general and administrative costs.

Ixiaro, which is partnered with Novartis, was approved in the first quarter of this year. However, “the market preparation and launch activities in the 30 countries” where it is approved have been “slower than anticipated”, with more than 50% of those countries still awaiting product launch.

Intercell added that “significant efforts are needed to create national recommendations for JE-vaccination, to build awareness and hence optimise product uptake”. It went on to say that some countries have successfully reached vaccination rates “that are already now in reach of the anticipated business opportunity and hence we are optimistic that others can achieve similarly over time”.

Given these problems, third-quarter sales of Ixiaro only reached 2.7 million euros and the Vienna-headquartered company said that these “lower-than-anticipated” revenues “and significant investments in strongly progressing late-stage development programmes” are likely to result in full-year net loss. It follows a statement issued by Intercell in the summer that it expected to end the year in profit.