Croatia’s Pliva, the largest pharmaceutical company in Eastern Europe, has reported a healthy 16% hike in revenues for the first nine months of 2005 to $934 million dollars, driven by strong gains for its generic products in Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK.

Earnings before interest and taxes came in at $98 million, held back by costs related to the ongoing divestment of its proprietary pharmaceutical businesses, including the sale of Sanctura (trospium) to Indevus Pharmaceuticals and ongoing restructuring activities [[17/05/05c]] [[06/05/05e]]. These contributed to a net loss at the firm of $34 million for the period.

Meanwhile, bulk sales of azithromycin – the active ingredient in Pfizer’s antifungal drug Zithromax – rose 15% to $86 million – although the expiry of Pfizer’s US patents on this product later this month will have a major impact on this element of the business in the fourth quarter and beyond.

Pliva reiterated its end-year outlook of sales growth at about 10% and operating profit within the range of $170 million to $180 million

Hungarian pharmaceutical company Richter Gedeon has posted a strong set of results for the first three quarters of 2005, with net profit rising just over 10% to 30.6 billion forint ($145 million) on sales up 13% to 125.1 billion forint year-on-year.

Sales growth in Commonwealth of Independent States and European Union countries offset a dip in turnover in the USA, and in its domestic market turnover increased 9.9% to 40.5 billion forint. Exports rose nearly 15% increase to 84.6 billion forint for the nine months, with sales to CIS countries up 40.2% to 33.42 billion forint and those to the EU rising 11.6% to 28.62 billion forint. Shipments to the USA, however, were down 24.2% year-on-year, at 10.17 billion forint.

Spanish group Zeltia posted a decline of 8% to 58.3 million euros in turnover for the first nine months of 2005, with revenues still coming from paints and varnishes as it strives to build a pharmaceutical portfolio.

While operating profit increased 60% to 6.6 million euros, rising R&D costs led the firm to post wider net losses of 22.8 million euros, versus 16.5 million in the like period of 2004. R&D costs for the first three quarters increased 10% to 30.9 million euros.

Updating on its pharma pipeline, Zeltia said its biotechnology subsidiary, PharmaMar, has just started clinical trials of PM2734 for solid tumours, while patient recruitment for a Phase II study of the group's Yondelis (trabectedin) in soft-tissue sarcoma has been completed. Recruitment of patients into a Phase II of Aplidin for the treatment of solid and haematological cancers has reached 500.

Danish drugmaker Bavarian Nordic has reported a pretax loss of 33 million Danish kroner for first three quarters of 2005, about the same as last year, while revenues soared 74% to 206 million kroner, mainly due to greater income from US government contracts for its modified vaccinia ankara (MVA) virus variant smallpox vaccine.

On August 15, the US ordered 20 million doses of Bavarian Nordic’s MVA-based smallpox vaccine and the award of the contract is expected in February 2006. The company has benefited from safety concerns about the formulations that are currently stockpiled.

The company has revised its full-year revenue forecast to 280-300 million kroner and a loss before tax at a level of 125.0 million kroner, due to the lack of sales of Elstree-BN smallpox vaccines and write-off of this inventory.

UK company Phytopharm cut its pretax losses from £6.2 million to £2.7 million in its fiscal year ended August 31. The firm also revealed an increase in turnover to £7.4 million, compared with £1.1 million in the equivalent period last year. Phytopharm raised £9 million from a share placement it carried out in May.

The company also said it has completed a joint licensing and development agreement with Unilever covering the its Hoodia gordonii extract, which acts as an appetite suppressant that reduces calorific intake in overweight subjects. Phytopharm says that it could earn a potential $40 million from the deal.

In addition, the group's neurodegredation treatment, Cogene (PYM50028), developed as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, has successfully passed through proof-of-principle Phase II trials. As a result, the firm received a £4 million milestone payment from its development partner Astellas in March, although this development agreement has since been terminated.

German drug development firm Morphosys reported nine-month 2005 revenues up 52% to 23.8 million euros, driven by a strong performance from its therapeutic antibodies business.

Net income quadrupled to 3.9 million euros from 1.0 million euros, despite the fact that R&D costs shot up 21% to 9.9 million euros due to the impact of the cross licensing agreement with US drug major Eli Lilly signed in the third quarter as part of a settlement to resolve patent litigation between the companies.

Dutch biotechnology group Pharming posted a net loss in the first nine month of 2005 of 12.7 million euros, an increase on the 10.3 million euros reported for the same period of 2004. The rise resulted from costs associated with the upcoming filings of rhC1INH, a hereditary angioedema drug, and rhLF, the company's recombinant human fibrinogen.

Pharming said it has entered into an agreement with AgResearch, based in New Zealand, to further develop rhLF and forged a license agreement for its protein production technology. In addition, the Dutch firm benefited from an undisclosed milestone payment for the clinical development of rhC1INH from Spanish partner Esteve.

Czech pharmaceutical group Zentiva said net sales rose just under 6% to 8.29 billion koruna $338 million) in the first nine months of 2005, driven by a 12% revenue increase for its branded pharmaceuticals business. Net profit jumped 25% to 1.49 billion koruna, due to improved sourcing of raw materials, and through an increasing proportion of sales generated by high-margin promoted brands.

Key growth brands included the antihypertensive Lozap (losartan), the antiulcer drug Helicid (omeprazole), the lipid-lowering agent Simvacard (simvastatin) and the urology drug Zoxon (doxazosin), said the firm.

Zentiva said its full-year net income will be in line with market expectations of 1.85 billion koruna.

German oncology specialist GPC Biotech says that net loss for the nine months ended September 30 ballooned 72% to 45 million euros as it ramped up its R&D spending, mainly on patient enrolment in its Phase III trial of satraplatin for prostate cancer and increased drug discovery efforts following the acquisition of the assets of Axxima Pharmaceuticals in early 2005.

Revenues decreased 29% to € 6.5 million in the period, reflecting fluctuations in its milestone-based revenue stream, while R&D spending rose 58% to 14.8 million euros.