Shares in UK drugmaker SkyePharma were on the rise this morning after the group posted a flat set of financials for 2007 but gave an upbeat outlook for the coming year on a spate of expected product approvals and launches.

The company posted sales of £41.6 million for 2007, marking a drop of 3.3% over the prior year, primarily because of exchange rate fluctuations, the group explained. Loss from continuing operations also stayed relatively flat at £15.7 million (£15.3 million in 2006), following a higher spend on research and development during the period, which was up 10% at £25.2 million.

But SkyePharma was able to significantly strengthen its financial standing during the year following a £50 million refinancing round and the sale of its injectable business to US investment consortium Blue Acquisition Corp, relieving the company of “significant cash burn”, it said.

Furthermore, significant developments with drugs in its portfolio mean that the group looks in a good position to start enjoying a potential sales growth spurt in the near future. An extended-release version of GlaxoSmithKline’s Parkinson’s disease drug Requip (ropinirole), which uses SkyePharma’s Geomatrix technology, has just been launched in France and could be rolled out in the US later this year if regulators issue a green light, bringing the firm extra royalties.

In addition, all four dosage strengths of the high blood pressure drug Sular (nisoldipine), developed with Sciele Pharma, were given the nod by the US Food and Drug Administration in January, triggering a $2 million milestone payment to SkyePharma, which also stands to receive single-digit royalties on sales, further adding to revenues.

Looking further ahead, the group is hopeful that progress with its flagship asthma drug Flutiform (formoterol/fluticasone), including the completion of a Phase III long-term safety study and enrolment in efficacy trials – should see the product filed with European regulators towards the end of this year and across the Atlantic at the beginning of 2009.

‘Exciting prospects’
“Once Flutiform is approved and launched in the US and Europe, the Board believes that there are exciting prospects for growth in both revenues and positive cashflow at SkyePharma”, its chairman Jerry Scudamore said in a statement.

And commenting on the group’s performance and outlook in general, he claimed: “The underlying potential of SkyePharma's business is starting to take shape following the launch of a number of new products and the company's financial restructuring during 2007”, and he confirmed that the group’s objectives now “are to renegotiate or refinance the convertible bonds in a timely manner, on reasonable terms, and turn SkyePharma into a profitable business over the next two years”.