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Drug maker's net loss widens


United Therapeutics Corp. said yesterday that its quarterly loss widened despite increased revenue because it had higher research expenses, including for human testing of its drugs.

Also yesterday, the Silver Spring-based developer of biopharmaceuticals said it was "optimistic" that the Food and Drug Administration would finish its review of the company's lead drug candidate, Remodulin, by July.

It said new independent studies of the drug, designed to treat the debilitating disease of pulmonary hypertension, showed it resulted in increased exercise capacity for patients who took it.

Share price climbs

Shares of United Therapeutics rose 17 cents, or 1.58 percent, to close yesterday at $10.96.

The company reported a net loss of $9.4 million, or 46 cents per share, on $1.5 million in revenue in the first quarter. That compares with a net loss of $7.9 million, or 44 cents per share, on $309,397 in revenue in the year-ago period.

The company attributed the increased revenue primarily to its telemedicine subsidiary, Medicomp, which was acquired in December. Medicomp, which makes wearable computers that monitor heart patients' conditions, reported first-quarter sales of $646,000.

But United Therapeutics' research and development expenses rose from $5.8 million to $8.5 million, and sales and marketing expenses also grew.

Review delayed

The company initially had said it was confident the FDA would complete its review of Remodulin in April, and its shares skidded 24 percent in one day last month when the FDA said it would require more time.

The review is the final hurdle Remodulin must clear to be approved. The drug would be United Therapeutics' first on the market.

In a statement, Chief Executive Officer Martine A. Rothblatt said, "Although we were disappointed in April when the FDA required additional time to review our New Drug Application for Remodulin, we are optimistic that the FDA will complete its review by July 2001 and are working very hard to assist the agency toward this goal."

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