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Higher revenues from imaging pace Nycomed Amersham's 1998 growth


Company reports U.S. contrast prices are stabilizingContrast agent developer Nycomed Amersham turned in strong financial results for 1998, the company's first full year of operation since the merger of Nycomed and Amersham in 1997. Pacing the

Company reports U.S. contrast prices are stabilizing

Contrast agent developer Nycomed Amersham turned in strong financial results for 1998, the company's first full year of operation since the merger of Nycomed and Amersham in 1997. Pacing the Anglo-Norwegian company's growth were higher sales of several key imaging products, including Myoview, Omniscan, and Visipaque, while higher sales volumes for x-ray contrast media in the U.S. mitigated the impact of price declines.

For the year (end-December), the company's Nycomed Amersham Imaging business recorded sales of 667.7 million ($1.09 billion), an increase of 6.8%, while the division's operating profit was 158.9 million ($258.9 million), up 13.7%. Sales accelerated in the second half of the year, with growth occurring at a rate of 7.6% compared with 5.9% in the first half.

Nycomed Amersham said that growth in its imaging business was driven by higher sales of Myoview, which were up 40.9% to $69.2 million, and of the company's I-125 Seeds radiation therapy product, which grew 108% to $68.4 million. The company's Omniscan MRI contrast agent recorded sales of $75.9 million, up 26.1%, while its Visipaque x-ray agent contributed revenues of $64.2 million.

In addition, the decline in prices for x-ray contrast agent Omnipaque slowed, with the company recording U.S. x-ray contrast sales of $214.7 million, down 12.4%. Nycomed's renewal of its x-ray contrast media supply deal with Novation should help ensure stable prices for the next several years. Nycomed added radiopharmaceuticals to the Novation relationship in December in a deal that is a good example of the synergies that have resulted from the Nycomed Amersham merger, the company said.

On the R&D side, Nycomed Amersham cited developments in nuclear medicine, MRI, and ultrasound. Datscan, a new radiopharmaceutical for diagnosing Parkinson's disease, was submitted for European approval in 1998. Clinical trials have been completed for Sonazoid (formerly NC100100), an ultrasound contrast agent for the diagnosis of chronic heart disease and tumors including cancer of the liver. The company's MRI blood-pool agent, Clariscan (formerly NC100150), should complete phase II clinical trials in the first half of this year. The company is also developing an MRI contrast agent based on the use of inert hyperpolarized gases for imaging air spaces, including those in the lungs. Preclinical trials are under way for the agent, the company said.

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