Shares in UK drug delivery group SkyePharma were on the rise this morning – up 16% - after the group posted a positive set of results for 2008, which saw sales leap and its organic performance swing to a profit.

The firm booked turnover of £62.2 million for the year, jumping 49% from 2007, after a greater stream of sales from contract research and development, an increase in royalty income following the launches of Pulmicort (budesonide) HFA-MDI, Sular (nisoldipine) and Requip (ropinirole) Once-a-Day, and higher manufacturing revenues was magnified by a strong helping hand from currency exchange rates.

This impressive growth in turnover, particularly during a time of economic gloom, as well as a continued reduction in operational costs helped the company to generate a pre-exceptional profit of £10.9 million, compared to a loss of £15.2 million in 2007.

However, exceptional charges of £28.5 million (versus nil in 2007), including a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of £19.5 million and £5.9 million relating to the write-down of assets and other costs associated with the termination of contracts to supply Foradil Certihaler, meant that SkyePharma booked an overall loss after tax of £28.7 million for the year.

The company’s outlook for the coming year is somewhat mixed. Overall sales are expected to take a downturn as this year’s result was bolstered by non-recurring items, and although further growth in contract development revenues is anticipated, the royalty stream is likely to remain flat as growth in sales of Requip (ropinirole) Once-a-Day, Zyflo (zileuton) CR and Lodotra (delayed-release prednisone) is countered by generic competition to Paxil (paroxetine) CR and Triglide (fenofibrate).

Furthermore, the company says it is expecting exceptional costs during 2009, largely relating to headcount reductions, although it stresses that this should also generate operational savings in the coming years.

Flutiform filings
SkyePharma is pinning much of its hopes for near-term growth on the asthma combination drug Flutiform (fluticasone and formoterol), the approval and commercial success of which is “expected to be transformational for the group”, according to non-executive chairman Jeremy Scudamore.

So it is particularly good news that the firm has now filed the drug for approval with the US Food and Drug Administration, which, if accepted, will trigger a $2 million milestone payment from partner Abbott Laboratories.

A submission in Europe is also expected any time now, after a technical error - which involved assigning patients to the wrong study arm in a trial of the drug - put back plans for a filing with the European Medicines Agency earlier this year.