First-quarter sales at Almirall have dipped 1% to 242.6 million euros, hurt by lower sales of the antihistamine Ebastel.

The Spanish drugmaker, which noted that adjusted net income was up 3% at 51.0 million euros, said sales of Ebastel (ebastine) fell 10.6% to 35.4 million euros, hurt by lower demand in Japan. Among the products Almirall sells under licence in Spain, the cholesterol drug Prevencor (atorvastatin), ie Pfizer’s Lipitor, fell 19.3% to 23.0 million euros, hit by the imact of other generic statins on the market.

However sales of the antidepressant Esertia (escitalopram), licensed from Lundbeck, increased 19.3% to 17.9 million euros. Revenues from Almirall’s own migraine treatment Almorgran (almotriptan) were up 5.4% at 39.6 million euros and the company also gave special mention to Solaraze (diclofenac) for actinic keratosis, which is licensed from SkyePharma and enjoyed a 12.5% sales rise to 5.4 million euros.

Two launches are expected for later this year, firstly the multiple sclerosis spray Sativex (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol), licensed from GW Pharmaceuticals and silodosin, licensed from Recordati for use in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Almirall is also predicting
significant Phase III newsflow on the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease drug Eklira (aclidinium) and linaclotide, licensed from Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, for chronic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.

Chief financial officer Eduardo Sanchiz said Almirall has “made a good start in 2010”, driven by “steady sales evolution and significant cost discipline achievements”. He expressed concerns about price cuts in Spain but claimed that “our potentially transformational pipeline is moving forward” and the firm will continue “pursuing new licensing opportunities and evaluating selected acquisitions".

Meantime, another Spanish drugmaker, Faes Farma has posted a reasonable set of results for the first quarter which show that net profit rose 4.1% to 8.4 million euros, while sales grew 3.3% to 52.7 million euros.

The Bilbao-headquartered company said the rises “would not be possible without the internationalisation strategy adopted” during the last few years.