WILMINGTON,Shares in aaiPharma stock surged nearly 10 percent on Tuesday after the pharmaceutical company announced FDA approval for two new dosage sizes of its drug Azasan.

Azasan is an immunosuppressant used to prevent rejection of transplanted kidneys.

aaiPharma also announced a 3-for-2 stock split for holders of the stock as of March 10.

The FDA will permit prescriptions for 75 mg and 100 mg tablets, giving doctors more flexibility in treating patients, aaiPharma said. The pill had been limited to 50 mg.

“By providing more dosing options, Azasan should offer physicians greater accuracy and flexibility when prescribing higher doses — and will make it easier for patients to take the medication as prescribed,” said Frank Snyder, MD, of Wilmington Internal Medicine in a statement issued by the company.

aaiPharma said a recent survey found that 66 percent of those using the drug were taking 100 mg or more per day. The new dosage size reduces the number of tablets patients will need and also will predict more accurate treatments, according to the company.

The new sizes would be launched on March 1.

The market for Azasan is some $55 million, according to aaiPharma.

Following the announcement, aaiPharma shares climbed $1.70, or 9.8 percent, to $18.92. The company’s stock was selling below $10 back in October.

aaiPharma also increased guidance for 2003, to as much as $275 million to $280 million, up from $270 million to $275 million. Earnings estimates for 2003 were increased to $1.10 per share, up five cents.

aaiPharma: www.aaipharma.com