- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Silver Spring-based United Therapeutics Corp. reported its first quarterly profit yesterday during a summer in which few biotechnology firms are making gains.

Revenue rose 31 percent from a year earlier, largely on the success of its drug Remodulin.

“We’re pleased to have reached this milestone within under two years of having launched the drug,” Martine Rothblatt, United Therapeutics’ chairman and chief executive officer, said during a conference call with industry financial analysts.

Net income rose to $4.1 million (19 cents per share) compared with a $2.4 million loss (11 cents) a year earlier.

Based on its improving fortunes, United Therapeutics plans to build a new manufacturing plant beside its Silver Spring headquarters.

The company acquired a parcel of land for $2.9 million with financial assistance from Wachovia Development. Wachovia also agreed to spend up to $32 million to build the plant, then plans to lease it back to United Therapeutics.

It is designed to include a multimedia display called a “BioWall.” The wall would feature films on biology and programming from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nearby will be a “BioWalk of Fame” to commemorate Maryland’s contributions to biotechnology, such as the mapping of the human genome.

The displays are intended to be educational and create good will in the community, said Fred Hadeed, United Therapeutics’ chief financial officer.

The project is scheduled for completion next year. The plant would be used to manufacture Remodulin, which is a treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension.

United Therapeutics’ success stands out primarily because so many other biotech companies are suffering setbacks.

The Nasdaq Composite Index of biotech firms is down 13 percent from January.

Industry analysts describe the mediocre performance of biotech firms as a summer lull.

“Nothing terribly surprising has happened,” said Alex Hittle, an analyst for the financial investment firm A.G. Edwards.

In previous years, biotech firms have introduced drugs that have made their stock value and income jump.

This year, old standby medications are selling steadily but no breakthroughs have occurred, he said.

“As businesses, they’re doing very well,” Mr. Hittle said. “As stocks, everybody seems to be selling them.”

United Therapeutics’ stock was up 16.7 percent yesterday on the Nasdaq to $28.05 per share.

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