Shire has reported a pretax loss of $321 million in 2005, well down on the $460 million profit posted in 2004, but still better than analysts’ forecasts, as development and launch costs for new products offset product sales growth.

Earnings were held back by costs associated with Shire’s acquisition of Transkaryotic Therapies and licensing agreement with New River Pharmaceuticals for a new attention deficit hyperactivity drug.

Sales rose to $1.6 billion, driven once again by the firm’s mainstay treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Adderall XR (mixed amphetamine salts) which swelled 20% to $730 million in the year and claimed a best-ever market share in the USA of 26%.

Barr settlement

The company also said it is continuing discussions with US company Barr Laboratories, which is angling to bring a generic version of Adderall XR to market by breaking Shire’s patent on the ADHD drug in the courts.

The company hoping to agree an out-of-court settlement with Barr, which would minimise the risk to Adderall XR and give the firm time to switch patients to NRP104, a drug it is developing for ADHD that could reach the market next year and has been tipped to make sales in excess of $1 billion.

Shire is due to meet with Barr early next month to discuss terms; it has already reached a settlement with another generics house, Impax Laboratories, preventing it from launching a generic until 2010.

Shire said it expects sales to rise in the low double digits this year, although profits will continue to be squeezed as it gears up to launch NRP104 and other products including a patch-delivered drug for ADHD called Daytrana (methylphenidate) and SPD476 (mesalazine) for ulcerative colitis.