TaiGen Biopharmaceuticals Holdings Ltd (太景醫藥研發控股) yesterday said that it turned profitable last quarter on the back of a milestone payment of US$5 million for its hepatitis C drug Furaprevir.

TaiGen received the payment from its Chinese partner, Yichang HEC Changjiang Pharmaceutical Co (宜昌東陽光長江藥業), at the end of June after completing the phase II clinical trial in China in April, communication manager Grace Wang (王暄茹) said by telephone.

“The cure rate was good in the phase II trial,” Wang said, adding that the company started the phase III trial in China in June.

“We expect to enroll a total of 360 patients as required by the regulator by the end of this year and hope to complete the trial next year,” she said.

According to their agreement, Yichang would make a milestone payment of US$5 million for each of the following — when TaiGen completes the final-stage trial, submits its application for marketing approval and gains regulatory approval — or a total of US$15 million over the next few years, Wang said.

TaiGen posted a net profit of NT$60.45 million (US$1.92 million) in the second quarter, bringing its total profit in the first half of the year to NT$6.37 million, compared with net losses of NT$122 million a year earlier, company data showed.

That translated into earnings per share of NT$0.01.

Contributing to its first-half performance were sales of the oral version of antibiotic Taigexyn, which surged 258 percent year-on-year after its marketing partner managed to tap into about 200 hospitals in China, Wang said.

TaiGen received marketing approval for the oral formulation in 2016 and expects sales of the drug to continue growing in the following years, she said.

The company is still waiting for Chinese authorities to finish their review of its injectable formulation of Taigexyn, which would generate higher profits as its price would be at least eight times higher than that of the oral formula, Wang said.

The injectable formulation is likely to be more popular as Chinese generally favor it over oral formulations, she said.