First profit from vaccine group Powderject pleases the market

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The Independent Online

Powderject Pharmaceuticals, the developer of needle-free injection technology which has turned itself into a vaccines group, surprised the market yesterday by posting its maiden profit.

The group made £4.4m before tax in the six months to 30 September, compared to a loss of £11m in the same period last year. The result was down to its Fluvarin influenza vaccine, which was first on the market ahead of this year's flu season. Sales from the product were up 45 per cent to £28.2m after US authorities reduced the age at which they recommend citizens should receive annual vaccinations.

The company is also restarting production of its smallpox vaccine, amid talks with the UK government over its response to the threat of bioterrorism.

Paul Drayson, Powderject's founder, chairman and chief executive, said there were also strong growth prospects for Dukoral, which yesterday received approval from the World Health Organisation as a vaccine against cholera and common bacteria-based diarrhoea.

Powderject shares rose 37.25p to 551.5p.

There was disappointment, however, over progress in talks to sell the needle-free injection technology for non-vaccine drug delivery. Mr Drayson reiterated his commitment to a disposal by the end of the group's financial year in March, but said some buyers had dropped out since 11 September.

"It may take longer than the year-end. The companies we are talking to tend to be loss-making drug technology companies," he said.

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