Salix Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: SLXP) announced that despite an increase in numbers of prescriptions and a spike in drug sales, the company still lost money for the first quarter of 2002.

Salix reported a net loss of $4.7 million, or 26 cents per share, for the quarter, with product revenues producing $6.2 million. The Raleigh-based company says product revenues were derived from sales of COLAZAL Capsules, its treatment of mildly to moderately active
ulcerative colitis.

Operating expenses were $11.1 million for the first quarter, compared to $8.5 million for the prior year period. Selling, general and administrative expenses were $7.0 million, compared to $5.6 million for the first quarter of 2001. Research and development expenses were $2.5 million for the first three months of 2002, compared to $1.4 million for the prior year period. Cash and cash equivalents were $79.1 million as of March 31.

Commenting on the quarter, Robert Ruscher, president and chief executive officer of Salix, said that COLAZAL sales were off to a solid start for the year. Ruscher said that over 34,000 prescriptions for the drug were written during the first quarter of 2002, compared to almost 25,000 during the fourth quarter of 2001. This represents a 37 percent quarter-over-quarter rate of growth.

And better times may be ahead. “Based upon information currently available, we estimate that net COLAZAL sales for 2002 will be between $30 and $35 million,” Ruscher said.

The announcement of Salix’s first quarter figures had little effect on its stock price. At midday, it was trading at $14.90, up less than 50 cents from its opening price for the day. The 52-week high for the stock is $25.23 and the low, $9.15.

Salix Pharmaceuticals: