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Questcor Pharmaceuticals Inc. reported first quarter 2013 adjusted earnings per share of 67 cents, up 15.5% from the year-ago period. Earnings were, however, well below the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 97 cents.

First quarter 2013 revenues climbed 41% to $135.1 million. Strong performance of H.P. Acthar Gel in the nephrotic syndrome (NS), dermatomyositis, polymyositis, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS) relapses and infantile spasms (IS) indications contributed to the massive growth.  Revenues, however, missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $154 million.

In the first quarter of 2013, research and development (R&D) expenses were $10.8 million, up 90.5%. The increase was attributable to the company’s efforts to develop its pipeline. Currently, Acthar is being studied for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and diabetic nephropathy.

In the reported quarter, general and administrative expenses were $12.5 million, up 130.6% and selling and marketing expenses were $35.5 million, up 63.3%.

Acthar, an injectable drug, is the lead product at Questcor. It is approved by the FDA for as many as 19 indications. The company shipped 4,830 vials of Acthar during the first quarter of 2013, up 17.5% year over year but down sequentially by 23.7%. However, in Apr 2013, Questcor made a record by shipping 2,550 vials of Acthar to its distributor in a single month. 

In the reported quarter, Acthar’s new paid prescriptions were about 1,725 to 1,750, up 16% year over year.

Questcor carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Currently, companies like Lannett Company, Inc. (LCI - Snapshot Report), Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and UCB (UCBJF) look more attractive with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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