The UK’s Vectura Group, which specialises in inhaled products, has posted a strong set of financials for the year ended March 31, helped by a £4.5 million payment from partner Novartis.

The Chippenham-headquartered firm says that revenues rose 29% to £40.1 million, boosted by the milestone payment from the Swiss major which is putting a treatment into Phase III for chromic obstructive pulmonary disease. The drug is QVA149, which is the company’s NVA237, a once-daily dry powder inhaled formulation of glycopyrronium bromide, combined with Novartis’ once-daily, long-acting beta-agonist indacaterol, and the latter is expected to submit the combo in 2012.

Vectura’s gross profit was up 34% to £36.6 million, while net loss was reduced by 39% to £10.2 million. Its R&D expenses climbed 13% to £36.4 million and Vectura ended the fiscal year with cash and equivalents of £64.1 million.

The company reacquired the US rights to VR315 from Novartis unit Sandoz in March, which is reportedly a generic version of GlaxoSmithKline’s asthma blockbuster Advair (fluticasone/salmeterol). Investors were concerned by the move, but chief executive Chris Blackwell is confident of fimnding a new partner.

He said VR315 “represents an important licensing opportunity” and Vectura will “continue to move the development programme forward in a cost-effective manner whilst monitoring the regulatory framework and assessing third-party interest”. Sandoz is still developing the drug in Europe.

Vectura also touted its pipeline, saying that a Phase II ‘at-home’ study of VR040 for Parkinson’s disease is ongoing and results are expected in 2010. A mid-stage trial of VR496 for cystic fibrosis is expected to report in early 2011.

It also has three new products under development that will enter the clinic in the next year: VR506, a generic steroid treatment for asthma, VR461 for fungal infections in the lung and VR090 for organ rejection in lung transplant patients. Mr Blackwell said expansion of the pipeline “has been undertaken while focusing on our financial goal of becoming a sustainably cash-generative business”.