Switzerland-based Nycomed has posted a dip in first-quarter sales due to generic competition to the gastrointestinal drug pantoprazole in the USA but chief executive Hakan Bjorklund told PharmaTimes World News that the firm is doing well elsewhere and intends to forge further ahead in the emerging markets.

Nycomed’s adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation increased 6.2% to 304.0 million euros, boosted by cost-cutting from last year’s restructuring. Turnover declined 5.0% to 830.2 million euros due at-risk launches of generic pantoprazole in the USA, but excluding that factor revenues would have been up 3.1%.

Nevertheless, pantoprazole still grew 1.3% to 370 million euros and some of that came from the approved generic of the drug launched by Nycomed and partner Wyeth in January. The Zurich-headquartered company said it is convinced of the validity and enforceability of their patent and will continue to vigorously pursue litigation. A lawsuit has just been slapped on Novartis’ Sandoz unit which is looking to market an injectable formulation of the drug, which Wyeth markets as Protonix.

Other drugs that boosted turnover were Preotact (parathyroid hormone) for osteoporosis, with sales of 9 million euros, and Alvesco (ciclesonide), an inhaled steroid for asthma, which contributed 10 million euros. Matrifen (fentanyl patch), a treatment for severe chronic opioid-sensitive pain, brought in over 5 million euros.

Geographically, Nycomed’s fastest-growing region is Russia/CIS and turnover increased 28.9% despite the unfavourable impact from exchange rates and Latin America, South Africa and Canada also performed well. In Europe, sales slipped 3.0% due in part to increasing price competition, and the one-time effect of terminating an imaging business agreement with Bracco. Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia and Romania all posted double-digit growth.

The pantoprazole issue meant that sales at Nycomed US declined 5.7% but were positively impacted by the contribution of Bradley Pharmaceuticals, the acquisition of which was completed at the end of February.

Mr Bjorklund said that the quarter had been a successful one, as Nycomed also signed two major out-licensing deals, for the haemostatic agent TachoSil (ibrinogen/thrombin) with Baxter and for Alvesco with Sepracor. It has also just launched Omnaris (ciclesonide) nasal spray for allergic rhinitis in Canada.

The firm has just set up a new subsidiary in Venezuela and the CEO told PharmaTimes World News that South America is a place where the group wishes to expand further, especially in Brazil and Mexico. As for Russia, he said that “we do not need any local partner”, as Nycomed is very strong there but Mr Bjorklund is interested in expanding in Asia, particularly China and India, and is looking at potential alliances in those countries.