Cornerstone Therapeutics has acquired the U.S. rights to a new cystic fibrosis drug approved last month by the Food and Drug Administration.
Cornerstone plans to launch the drug, Bethkis, in the first half of 2013. Bethkis is an inhaled treatment for cystic fibrosis patients whose lungs have been invaded by bacteria that can trigger infections.
"Our sales force is already calling on hospital accounts, where the majority of (cystic fibrosis) care centers are located," CEO Craig Collard said in a conference call with analysts.
The Cary-based company licensed Bethkis from Chiesi Farameutici, an Italian company that has owned a majority stake in Cornerstone since 2009. Cornerstone previously acquired Curosurf, which treats a lung ailment that afflicts premature infants, from Chiesi.
Collard said Bethkis compares favorably to Tobi, a Novartis drug that generated $290 million in sales last year. Bethkis, which is marketed as Bramitob overseas, has been able to capture market share of more than 20 percent in some countries, he added.
Cornerstone also reported that revenue in the third quarter jumped 49 percent to $37.5 million. The revenue growth was powered by a 74 percent increase in sales of its Zyflo asthma products plus $12.8 million from the first full quarter of sales of the hypertension drug Cardene IV.
Cornerstone acquired Cardene earlier this year when it paid $150 million for specialty pharmaceutical company EKR Therapeutics. Cardene revenue totaled $12.8 million in the third quarter.
Cornerstone posted net income of $1.2 million, or 5 cents per share, up from $117,000 a year ago.
Cornerstone shares closed Thursday at $4.77, down 3 cents. Its shares have fallen 15 percent this year.