Belgium’s UCB has posted a reasonable set of financials for 2010 but this year will see earnings hit hard by the patent expiry on the antiepileptic Keppra.

Core profit, ie recurring earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation, climbed 5% to 731 million euros, while total revenues were up 3% to 3.22 billion euros. Sales of Keppra (levetiracetam) were up 3% to 942 million euros, despite generic competition in North America, while the antihistamine Zyrtec (cetirizine) fell 15% to 229 million euros. Its follow-up Xyzal (levocetirizine) declined 13% to 115 million euros, due to loss of patent protection in Europe.

Sales of the anti-tussive Tussionex (hydrocodone and chlorpheniramine) fell 46% to 80 million euros, hit by "a weak cough and cold season". However, UCB’s new products impressed, especially Cimzia (certolizumab pegol) for rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

It had sales of 198 million euros, up 163%, while the new antiepileptic Vimpat (lacosamide) brought in 133 million euros, an increase of 190%. Sales of the Neupro (rotigotine) patch for Parkinson’s disease and restless legs syndrome rose 34% to 82 million euros.

Roch Doliveux, UCB’s chief executive, said the "intense growth of Cimzia, Vimpat and Neupro is expected to compensate to a large extent – but not entirely – the effects of the last wave of major patent expiries expected in 2011". After this year, UCB is not expected to face major patent expiries for more than a decade.

Still, 2011 will be tough, and UCB expects full-year revenues of about 3.00-3.10 billion euros and core profit of about 650-680 million euros.