UCB may have posted a decline in sales for the first nine months but the Belgian drugmaker has upped its earnings forecast for the full year.

Without disclosing specific figures, UCB noted that revenues decreased “by a mid-single digit percentage rate”, due to the impact of the US patent expiry on its antihistamine Zyrtec (cetirizine) in December last year. However revenues remained stable when excluding the impact of currency fluctuations, thanks to strong sales of the antiepileptic Keppra (levetiracetam) and its follow-up Xyzal (levocetirizine), as well the anti-allergy medicine Tussionex (hydrocodone and chlorpheniramine).

These three drugs continued to deliver strong double-digit growth, the company noted, although Keppra is expected to face generic competition in the USA from early November.

UCB expects full-year revenues of 3.3 billion euros while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation are forecast to reach 720 million euros versus a previous guidance of 650 million euros. This rise is due in part to the settlement of a dispute over royalties which means it will book deferred revenue in the fourth quarter, though the figures will be significantly impacted by the one-time effects of the SHAPE initiative, which will see 2,000 jobs cut.

UCB confirmed its forecast that EBITDA in 2009 would reach at least 650 million euros, “increasing thereafter based on growth from newly launched products”.

The results come at the end of a good week for UCB which saw its stock soar almost 16% on the news that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved Vimpat (lacosamide) for use as an add-on therapy for the treatment of partial-onset seizures in people with epilepsy who are 17 and older. The approval made up for the failures to get the green light for Vimpat to treat diabetic neuropathic pain in the USA and Europe earlier this year, though UCB said it may an additional clinical trial “to further substantiate the magnitude of effect of lacosamide in DNP”.

UCB also noted that over 2,300 Crohn’s disease patients have been prescribed Cimzia (certolizumab pegol) since its US launch in April. The firm is now waiting to hear from the US and European authorities as to whether they will approve Cimzia for rheumatoid arthritis.