Chiesi of Italy says that "despite a challenging environment for the pharmaceutical industry dominated by price cuts, reimbursement issues and a general decline in pipeline products," its business is booming.

The company noted that its "impressive track record of double-digit growth continued through 2010" with a 16.4% increase in revenue to 1.02 billion euros. This relates to over three times the industry growth rate.

That growth is being driven by Chiesi's new asthma combo Foster (formoterol and beclometasone), which is also available for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Turkey, and Curosurf (poractant alpha) for the treatment of premature infants affected by respiratory distress syndrome. Over 70% of turnover is generated from sales outside of Italy.

Chiesi’s pipeline is predominantly in asthma and COPD, but it is also developing therapies for use in intensive care for premature newborns and cardiovascular disease as well as cystic fibrosis, regenerative medicine and Alzheimer’s disease. The company spent over 150 million euros on R&D last year and has just opened a state-of-the-art research facility in Parma.

The centre (pictured) "represents our firm conviction to continue to invest in our core business of drug discovery, placing research at the centre of our business model", said R&D boss Paolo Chiesi. It will be home to some 350 staff and estimates put the cost of the project at around 90 million euros.

Chief executive Alberto Chiesi said the group "continues to expand in Europe and outside and with our product portfolio we believe we can carry on growing within an extremely challenging market". He added that "as an independent company, Chiesi has the freedom to continue long-term investments into R&D in niche specialist areas and respond quickly to emerging business opportunities".