* FY revenue up 16.2 pct to 98.5 million pounds
* Cash at year end of 82.6 million pounds vs 78.2 mln
* Says to market Varisolve itself in U.S. reimbursed sector
* Shares up 4.8 pct
(Adds company comment, reaction, shares)
By Paul Sandle
LONDON, May 21 (Reuters) - British pharmaceutical firm BTG BGC.L said it would market its varicose vein treatment Varisolve itself in the United States after it reported a strong financial performance in the year to end-March.
The company had been pondering whether to find a partner for the product, which would have helped with trial costs but would have meant losing a share of revenues.
BTG’s decision to market Varisolve applies to the U.S. reimbursement market, where medical treatment is funded by insurers.
“As expected, BTG is taking Varisolve forward itself for the reimbursed market segment,” they said. “We believe this is the right decision,” said analysts at PiperPiper Jaffray, who have an overweight rating on the stock. They added that the firm’s numbers were well ahead of forecasts.
Chief Executive Louise Makin said Phase III trials for Varisolve would start in the second half.
“We have agreed with the FDA everything we need to commence Phase III trials,” she said in an interview on Friday.
“This is a transformation earnings opportunity for BTG, it’s been significantly de-risked and we are very excited about it.”
U.S. regulators had previously raised concerns about the safety of the drug, which uses an injected foam to dissolve the veins as an easier alternative to stripping the veins,
Chief Financial Officer Rolf Soderstrom said the Varisolve trials would cost about $55 million over three years, funded by its own strong cash resources, which stood at 82.6 million pounds at end-March.
“We estimate this is a $250-500 million sales opportunity,” he said.
BTG increased its revenue by 16.2 percent to 98.5 million pounds ($141 million), and posted a pretax profit of 9.1 million pounds for the year, against a loss of 11.3 million a year earlier, helped by its acquisition of biotech firm Protherics in December 2008.
It gained anti-poison medicines CroFab and DigiFab in the deal, and the group will start selling them in the United States itself from October.
Makin said BTG would look for more opportunities, particularly for drugs it could sell using its specialised sales force.
“We will seek to further strengthen our portfolio as we continue to build BTG into a sustainably profitable specialty pharmaceuticals company,” she said.
Shares in the group. which have lost 11 percent of their value since the start of the year, were 4.8 percent higher by 0925 GMT, topping the mid-cap leaderboard.
With the Varisolve decision behind the company, the market will begin to focus on BTG’s other pipeline products, with three Phase III trials and one key Phase II, for its oral MS product, due to report with 12-18 months, the Piper Jaffray analysts said. (Editing by Victoria Bryan and Jon Loades-Carter) ($1=.6970 Pound)