UK drugmaker Vernalis has posted a widening of losses for 2006 as its R&D costs leapt 47% as it pushes four clinical programmes through the pipeline.

The company’s net loss before exceptional items was £30.7 million, an increase of 16.3%, while R&D rose to £38.9 million, including an impairment charge of £9.8 million in respect of V1003. The valuation of the product, which is in Phase II trials for acute pain, has been reduced to zero, Vernalis said, “due to the uncertainty surrounding its future development.”

The increase in the R&D spend is due to increased investment on developing V1512 for Parkinson’s disease and V3381, which has moved into Phase II trials for neuropathic pain. The manufacture of material for Phase III studies of V10153 for ischaemic stroke also pushed up the costs.

Revenues for the year grew 15.6% to £16.3 million, thanks to the contribution of Apokyn (apomorphine hydrochloride injection), relaunched in February last year for Parkinson's, and its migraine drug Frova (frovatriptan) and Vernalis also noted that its partner, Menarini, has received pricing and reimbursement for Frova in France. Following a launch there, planned for later this month, Menarini will market Frova in all of the major European pharmaceutical markets.

Simon Sturge, Vernalis’ chief executive, said 2006 “was a year of significant investment, both in our US sales and marketing operation, and in progressing our clinical portfolio.” He added that “we eagerly await the potential label expansion of Frova for menstrual migraine,” which the US Food and Drug Administration is due to review on May 19 and it expects to see “the benefit from our investment in the development portfolio with a number of programmes finishing clinical trials in the middle of the year.”