Inspire Pharma says 4th quarter narrowed due to boost in Azasite solution sales

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Inspire posts smaller loss as Azasite sales rise

DURHAM, N.C. — Inspire Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Thursday it had a smaller loss in the fourth quarter, as sales of its pinkeye treatment Azasite climbed due to a shortage of a competing product.

Inspire said Azasite solution sales rose 67 percent to $12.1 million as a shortage of erythromycin ointment gave sales a temporary boost. Hospitals used Azasite as a substitute during the last few months of the year. The company said the shortage has been resolved, and sales will be lower in the first quarter.

The company said it expects $100 million to $110 million in total revenue in 2010. Analysts expect $106.7 million in revenue for Inspire.

Inspire lost $2.6 million, or 3 cents per share, in the three months ended Dec. 31 from $9.7 million, or 17 cents per share, a year ago.

Its overall revenue jumped 57 percent to $29.6 million from $18.9 million, due to greater sales of Azasite and more revenue from dry eye treatment Restasis, which is marketed by Allergan Inc., and pinkeye treatment Elestat.

Co-promotion and royalty revenue from Restasis and Elestat increased to $17.5 million from $11.6 million.

Analysts expected a larger loss of 11 cents per share and lower revenue of $26.1 million, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

The company’s loss was smaller on a per-share basis in part because it now has more shares on the market. Its average share count was 82.3 million during the fourth quarter of 2009, up from 56.7 million a year ago.

For the year, the company lost $40 million, or 60 cents per share, versus a loss of $51.6 million, or 91 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue climbed 31 percent to $92.2 million from $70.5 million.

For this year, Inspire expects hospital use of Azasite to decline from its fourth-quarter levels, and said a generic version of Elestat may reach the market, which would cut into its sales. The company plans to spend $145 million to $169 million for the year.

It said Allergan is forecasting $580 million to $600 million in Restasis sales for the year.

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