Denmark’s Nycomed has posted a strong set of results for the first quarter, boosted by the contribution of Altana Pharma which it acquired last December for 4.22 billion euros.

Turnover increased 6.2% to 873.5 million euros, driven by a 19% increase in sales of the gastrointestinal drug pantoprazole, and the firm said that the figures overall were satisfactory result, especially given “the intensified focus on cost-containment from health authorities and increasing generic competition”. Nycomed’s adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation reached 286.3 million euros, an increase of 30% over the same period in 2006.

The increase was mainly due to reduced expenses for marketing and R&D as the cost base was lower than anticipated entering 2007, the firm said, but it was also helped by the start of the Altana integration process. Nycomed chief executive Hakan Bjorklund said the performance “gives us confidence that we are on the right track,” adding that “even though we have used large internal resources on getting our integration programme up and running, we have managed to sustain an attractive growth rate.”

He cautioned that Nycomed still has “a long way to go before our two organisations are completely integrated and all synergies are fully realized,” but said that while “many challenges still lie ahead...we are proceeding according to plans.”

Antibody deal signed with Micromet

The results were published after Nycomed had announced a collaboration with the US biotechnology company Micromet to develop a class of antibodies in a deal potentially worth $167 million. The deal will involve the development of anti-GM-CSF antibodies which have the potential to treat inflammatory and autoimmune diseases with an initial focus on Micromet's MT203, which is expected to enter clinical trials in 2008.

Micromet will receive an upfront license fee of around $7 million and is eligible to receive R&D reimbursements and milestone payments of around $160 million. The company will be responsible for preclinical development and manufacturing during early clinical trials, while Nycomed will bear the cost of clinical development and commercialisation worldwide.

Anders Ullman, executive vice president of R&D at Nycomed, said that “neutralising GM-CSF presents a new biology concept in inflammatory processes”, adding that the deal “is the first example of Nycomed's strong commitment towards external collaborations across all development stages as a key component of our new R&D strategy”.