Japan's Eisai reported better-than-expected earnings in its fiscal first half, helped by expansion of its international business and a favourable yen/dollar exchange rate.

Total revenues increased more than 8% year-on-year to 282.6 billion yen, a little ahead of expectations, while operating income was up nearly 9% to 45.3 billion yen. Net income came in at 30.2 billion yen, up 9%, above forecasts of 28 billion yen.

Eisai's top-selling product Aricept (donepezil) for Alzheimer's disease put in a good showing, with sales up 17.8% to 89.9 billion yen worldwide. The USA was a particularly fertile ground for the product, with sales up just under 20% to $481 million dollars, despite competition from Novartis' Exelon (rivastigmine). European turnover of Aricept rose a little under 10% to 14.7 billion yen. Eisai said it now expects full-year turnover of the product to come in at 188 billion yen, 3 billion yen above it earlier forecasts.

Aciphex (rabeprazole), a proton pump inhibitor sold as Pariet in Japan, managed a 10.5% increase in sales to 71.6 billion yen worldwide, although US sales growth was pegged back to 3.4%, to $488 million, because of competition in the market for this class of drug. The increase in the USA was due to pricing and prescriptions for the product actually dipped. Turnover in Europe declined due to price reductions.

Sales in the USA of the anti-epileptic Zonegran (zonisamide) grew 21% to $68 million.

Based on the strong first-half performance, Eisai has raised its full-year projections, and now expects a 10% increase in turnover to 58 billion yen and a 9% hike in operating income to 95 billion yen.

Updating on its product pipeline, Eisai noted that it has filed for approval in the USA of epilepsy drug Inovelon (rufinamide) as an adjunctive treatment of partial-onset

seizures in adults and adolescent patients, and seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome in children.

The Japanese firm also noted that E5564 (eritoran), an endotoxin antagonist, cleared a Phase II for severe sepsis, and will be advanced into Phase III development.

Meanwhile, E2007 for Parkinson's disease, in a new class of selective AMPA receptor blockers, has moved into Phase III testing, with studies also started in other indication such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and migraine prophylaxis. And preparations are now in hand to file an early marketing application for E7389, a compound for breast cancer and non-small cell lung cancer

Meanwhile, Aricept is being prepared for re-filing in the USA in December for severe dementia due to Alzheimer's disease. Eisai submitted the application in August but it was not accepted due to deficiencies in its formatting [[28/10/05e]].