UK biotechnology group Amarin saw its loss widen for the fourth quarter of 2005, as a substantial investment in research and development and intellectual property was buffered by license fee revenue and lower selling, general and administrative expenses.

The company posted a net loss of $5.2 million, or $0.10 per American Depositary Share, versus a loss of $4.8 million, or $0.13 per ADS, for the year-earlier period, as results were dragged down by R&D costs of $2.4 million.

On the plus side, Amarin booked revenues of $1 billion for the period, with $500,000 stemming from an initial access fee received from Multicell on the licensing of exclusive, worldwide rights to LAX-202 for the treatment of fatigue in patients suffering from multiple sclerosis.

For 2005, Amarin reported a net loss of $18.7 million, or $0.40 per ADS, compared with net income of $4.7 million, or $0.21 per ADS, for the year ended December 31, 2004. The operating loss from continuing activities was $18.9 million, versus an operating loss of $9.9 million for the prior year. Again, the firm explained the hike in loss as primarily being the result of heavier investment in R&D and intellectual property during the year.

Commenting on the group’s performance, Chief Executive Officer, Rick Stewart, stated: “2005 was a watershed year for Amarin, marked by significant advances in all activities. We made substantial progress with all of our development programs, successfully out-licensed one of our pipeline programs, enhanced our management team with key hires in critically important positions, and considerably strengthened our balance sheet through a number of successful financings that raised gross proceeds of $46.3 million."

He went on to say: "We continue to successfully implement our focused strategy of advancing our clinical programs in Huntington's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases while partnering our product candidates outside of this core area of focus. Our strengthened balance sheet allows us to actively pursue our course and we expect to build on our momentum throughout 2006."

The company intends to directly commercialize its neurology pipeline in the US and to partner it for geographic markets outside this region, while for indications outside of neurology, such as depression, Amarin plans to partner its pipeline globally, is said. In addition, the firm’s strategy also includes the acquisition and in-licensing of neurology products that it can develop and market directly in America.