Swiss drugmaker Actelion reported revenues for the first half of 2006 of 437 million francs ($554m), up 48% on the year-earlier period, driven once again by sales of its pulmonary artery hypertension product Tracleer.

Net profit leapt 116% to 51 million francs, as sales of Tracleer (bosentan) came in at 418 million francs, 5% ahead of Lehman Brothers' estimates.

Actelion also said that Zavesca (miglustat), its new treatment for Gaucher disease, contributed 12 million francs to its coffers, double the turnover recorded in the same period last year.

Actelion added that its R&D expenses during the first half of the year increased to 101 million francs, including a 12% rise in its second-quarter investment. Selling, general and administrative costs were significantly higher, at 85 million francs from 58 million in the first half of last year, mainly due to the impact of salary increases and sales-related expenses.

The company’s new agreement for an autoimmune drug with Roche, which included an upfront payment of $75 million, did not feature in the results, but will provide a boost to the company over the next couple of years, and a number of analysts said Actelion was doing well to develop its pipeline and reduce its reliance on Tracleer in the future.

Looking ahead, analysts said 2007 would be a key year for Actelion as it will face concerted competition to Actelion not only from Pfizer’s recently-approved PAH drug Revatio (sildenafil) but also Encysive’s Thelin (sitaxsentan sodium) – due for approval in the USA any day now – and Myogen’s ambrisentan which could get US clearance by the end of 2006.