Vectura posts wider 2017 loss, revenue rise

(Reuters) - British drugmaker Vectura VEC.L reported a worse-than-expected pretax loss for the full year on Wednesday, dragged by lower royalties and higher costs related to the SkyePharma deal.

The company, which bought rival SkyePharma for 441 million pounds in June 2016, said pretax loss stood at 102.2 million pounds against analysts’ expectations of a loss of 88.7 million pounds, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The asthma inhaler-maker said total royalties fell to 52.6 million pounds from 74.5 million pounds a year earlier. The company derives 35 percent of its revenue from royalties.

In a strategy shift, Vectura moved from product development to partnered development of generic drugs for the U.S. market, allowing it to take money from higher-risk, early-stage projects to invest in “relatively lower risk” ones.

Revenue rose 4 percent to 131.4 million pounds on higher demand for its asthma products Flutiform and Ultibro.

The pharma firm, which develops formulations and technology for dry-powder inhalers, saw Flutiform sales rising 4 percent, while Ultibro and Seebri sales grew 10.9 percent.

Vectura has had a rough time since the SkyePharma deal, including a royalties row with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), delays with Novartis launching its Ultibro inhaler in the U.S. and Flutiform failing a clinical study.

The troubles continued this year as its hopes to launch the first U.S. generic copy of GSK's best-selling Advair inhaler, along with partner Hikma Pharmaceuticals HIK.L, were hit by delayed approvals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Several analysts now expect generic Advair to be launched in 2020, after the FDA last week insisted on a further clinical study be conducted on the drug.

Vectura’s share, which fell as much as 2.1 percent at market open, were flat at 0830 GMT.

(This story corrects revenue figures in 5th paragraph.)

Reporting by Justin George Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil Nair