Actelion has posted a strong set of financials for 2010 as sales of its pulmonary arterial hypertension blockbuster Tracleer continue to soar, asserting once again its desire to remain independent.

Net profit came in at 390.6 million Swiss francs (about $411.2 millon), a rise of 25%, while sales climbed 12% to 1.83 billion francs, the majority of which came from Tracleer (bosentan), The latter’s sales climbed 13% to 1.64 billion francs. 

Of Actelion’s other products, sales of Ventavis (iloprost), an inhaled therapy for the treatment of PAH, fell 10% to 118.7 million francs, while sales of Zavesca (miglustat), for patients with Gaucher disease for whom enzyme replacement therapy is not a therapeutic option, leapt 37% to 68.7 million francs.

Interestingly, Actelion is paying out its first-ever dividend, 0.80 francs per share, at a time when a dissident stockholder, Elliott Advisors, is calling for the resignation of chief executive Jean-Paul Clozel and chairman Robert Cawthorn. The hedge fund has also asked the Allschwil-based group to explore a future sale.

Dr Cluzel repeated his belief that independence is the best way forward for Actelion, speaking of the firm's entrepreneurial culture. On a conference call, he said this would be a bad time to sell now that the pipeline is coming to fruition. A sale would deprive shareholders "for the benefit of a few people who want to make a very quick profit,” he noted.

The Actelion CEO noted that despite the discontinuation of two late-stage compounds in the last twelve months, the sleep disorder drug almorexant and the endothelin receptor antagonist clazosentan, "our clinical pipeline remains very promising". Phase III data for macitentan, seen as a successor to Tracleer, is due soon and with another drug, selexipag, "we are well positioned to further develop our PAH franchise", he said.

Dr Cluzel noted that in 2011, "we will also obtain data from four mid-stage compounds", notably ponesimod for multiple sclerosis. He added that "consistent with our strategy, we will also carefully consider partnerships for some of our compounds, so as to maximise value while managing risk".