Belgium’s UCB has posted a reasonably healthy set of financials for the first half of 2009 despite the impact of the US patent expiry on its anti-epileptic Keppra.

Net income almost quadrupled to 516 million euros, but that included capital gains of 455 million euros and minus that effect, earnings fell 6% to 135 million euros. Total revenues were also down 6% to 1.60 billion euros, while sales were down 10% to 1.38 billion euros.

Sales of Keppra (levetiracetam) were down 22% to 465 million euros, as generic competition reduced revenues in North America by 50%. The antihistamine Zyrtec (cetirizine) climbed 28% to 169 million euros, thanks to a successful launch in Japan of the paediatric indications and new formulations as well as a severe pollen season. Its follow-up Xyzal (levocetirizine) fell to 82 million euros (-21%) due to a less severe season in Europe

The anti-tussive Tussionex (hydrocodone and chlorpheniramine) was down 8% to 67 million euros, due to a mild cough and cold season in the USA. Metadate CD (methylphenidate), for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, had sales of 42 million euros (+15%).

UCB is excited by its new products, especially Cimzia (certolizumab pegol), which was approved a couple of months ago in the USA for rheumatoid arthritis and has been on the market for Crohn’s disease. It had sales of 24 million euros, while its new antiepileptic Vimpat (lacosamide) brought in 23 million euros.

The Brussels-based drugmaker also noted that its royalty revenues jumped 35% to 114 million euros, boosted by the launch of Pfizer’s Toviaz (fesoterodine) for the treatment of overactive bladder.

Chief executive Roch Doliveux said that UCB is now focusing on the successful commercialisation of Cimzia, Vimpat and the Parkinson's disease patch Neupro (rotigotine). At the same time, “we are striving for improved efficiency and more partnerships to strengthen our performance and to continue transforming UCB into the next generation biopharma leader”.

The company reiterated its full-year revenue forecast of 3.1-3.3 billion euros, while reported net profit should reach 550 million euros.