Italy’s Recordati said yesterday that exports of its pharmaceutical products help it lift revenues by 3.6% in the first nine months of 2006 to 440 million euros ($558m), although its domestic business fell 3% due to enforced price reductions.

In the third quarter alone the top-line message was less rosy, however, with worldwide sales down 2.7%, although cost-cutting helped the firm maintain its operating profit at 28.4 million euros, roughly the same level as a year ago.

Flagship drug lercanidipine for high blood pressure led the advance, with a 26% increase in sales to 133 million euros, helped by the introduction of a new 20mg formulation in a number of markets and the buyback of full rights to the product in Germany from UCB.

Further sales momentum should come from the approval of a fixed-dose combination product, Zanitek (lercanidipine plus enalapril) in June in Germany, said Recordati. Germany will act as the reference member state for pan-European Union approval with additional registrations for this product expected throughout 2007.

Recordati also gave an update on its 45 million-euro acquisition of Portuguese drugmaker Jaba Farmaceutica, saying that this is still on track to complete by the end of the year.

Jaba is the third-largest pharmaceutical manufacturer in Portugal, with sales of 39 million euros in 2005, and will serve as a platform for the launch of Recordati’s lercanidipine products and other lines, including Infasurf (calf-derived surfactant) for the prevention and treatment of neonatal respiratory distress syndrome, which Recordati licensed from US firm Ony in June, and Stanate (stannsoporfin) for neonatal hyperbilirubinemia.

There was little positive news on Recordati’s pipeline. The company said it had been forced to reformulate its REC 2615 candidate for female sexual dysfunction to improve tissue penetration after a disappointing pharmacodynamic study. And a proof-of-principle study of REC 0545 for overactive bladder also failed to show a benefit over placebo.