Strong sterol sales boost revenues for Forbes Medi-Tech

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Strong phytosterol sales in the first quarter for Canadian company
Forbes Medi-Tech doubles first quarter revenues from last year. The
company reported revenue of C$2.4 billion (€1.6bn), up from C$1.2
billion in the comparable period of 2001.

Canadian biopharmaceutical company Forbes Medi-Tech reported revenues of C$2.4 billion (€1.6bn) in the first quarter of fiscal 2002, double the figures of the comparative period in 2001. A significant rise in phytosterols sales was attributed mainly to sales of non-food grade sterols from company's share of the Phyto-Source joint venture.

Revenues from phytosterol sales alone in the quarter were $1.9 million compared with $0.4 million in the three months ended 30 April 2001. The company changed its year-end in 2001 from 31 July to 31 December, so the comparative period for this quarter is the three months ended 30 April 2001. These sales figures include direct product sales and royalties.

Forbes also reported a further reduction in net losses, with the net loss for the first quarter of fiscal 2002 of $2.1 million ($0.10 per share), down from $3.0 million ($0.14 per share) for the three-month period ended 30 April 2001.

"Over the last six months Forbes has reduced its burn rate by more than 50 per cent,"​ said Charles Butt, president and CEO of Forbes Medi-Tech.

"Based on projected revenues from committed sterol contracts for May, June and July and anticipated proceeds from the sale of the Amqui pilot plant announced last month, Forbes' net burn rate for those three months is expected to be close to zero,"​ he added.

The company's net research and development (R&D) expenditures amounted to $1.0 million in the first quarter of 2002, compared to $2.0 million in the three-month period ended 30 April 2001. General and administrative costs were down, as were research and development expenses, which were reduced from $3.5 million for the period ended 30 April 2001, to $2.0 million for the three months ended 31 March this year.

Cost of sales, marketing and product development related to the Company's phytosterol and fine chemicals business for the three months ended 31 March 2002 totaled $1.9 million (30 April 2001 - $0.6 million) and includes $0.13 million of costs related to the fine chemicals business.

Forbes said it would be necessary to seek additional debt or equity financing by 30 September 2002 to meet its planned expenditures.

In addition to possible financing, it said it was also exploring possible licensing, partnering or major long-term sterol contracts using the phytosterol production capacity of the Phyto-Source plant. If successful, this would reduce the need to raise capital through the equity markets.

The company said it was in discussions with several parties regarding possible sterol contracts or alliances, and mergers or acquisitions.

"Forbes' management have been working diligently to secure sterol contracts and finalise a bridge financing that will fund the company into 2003 without excessively diluting the stock,"​ said Butt. "We are optimistic that we can conclude these negotiations shortly and will make an announcement in due course,"​ he continued.

Forbes is currently developing cholesterol-lowering agents to be used in pharmaceutical therapeutics and as functional food ingredients.

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