Belgium’s Solvay has posted an 11.5% increase in net income to 142 million euros for the fourth quarter, although group sales were flat at 2.35 billion euros.

Pharmaceutical revenues fell 7% to 666 million euros but the sector’s full-year figures showed a 15% increase to 2.27 billion euros. The fourth-quarter decline was principally due to the loss of marketing rights for Pantoloc (pantoprazole) in May and full-year sales of the antiulcerant were down 58% to 71 million euros. Much more positive was the contribution made by cardiovascular drug fenofibrate, acquired along with Fournier last year, which brought in 413 million euros in 2006.

For the full year, there was a 15% increase for Androgel testosterone replacement therapy to 275 million euros and Solvay’s Creon pancreatic enzyme replacement product advanced 18% to 191 million euros.

In terms of R&D, much excitement surrounds the experimental antipsychotic bifeprunox after promising Phase III data was published in December. Solvay and partner Wyeth filed the drug with the US Food and Drug Administration in October and, if approved, annual sales could reach $1 billion. Solvay noted that it received a $25 million milestone payment from Wyeth in the fourth quarter and the two firms have also expanded their neuroscience research collaboration.

Solvay has started a Phase IIb study of its SLV 319 obesity

Candidate, triggering a $25 milestone payment from partner Bristol-Myers Squibb and is also looking to expand its fenofibrate franchise along with partner Abbott Laboratories. However, a marketing application in Europe for the diabetes drug and lipid lowerer combo Synordia (fenofibrate/metformin) was withdrawn at the end of last year when Solvay said it was “not able to respond to the request for additional information

within the allowed timeframe."