Belgian pharmaceuticals and chemicals group UCB has said it expects its profit in 2003 to be at a level comparable to those of the previous year, influenced by the unfavourable economic climate, but especially affected by the fall in the US dollar.
At its annual general meeting, the company said global sales of its antihistamine Zyrtec (cetirizine) have continued to grow this year, although a decline was registered in Europe due to the introduction of generics. Growth in the USA and Japan was good, considering the level of competition in this therapeutic category and the effects of the switching of Schering-Plough's rival product Claritin (loratadine) to over-the-counter status in the USA.
UCB also said that it expects a hefty increase sales of its follow-up product Xyzal (levocetirizine) as the drug will be available in all European countries by the end of the year. Turnover of the epilepsy drug Keppra (levetiracetam) have also shown strong growth in the first five months of 2003, it added.
In the chemical unit, the company said there has been significant growth following the acquisition of operations from Solutia, but there has also been a contraction in margins due to the unfavourable economic situation.