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Last Updated

16 Sep 2003

Source: Wall Street Journal, September 16, 2003


Acambis Swings to Profit; CEO Will Resign Position


Biotechnology company Acambis PLC swung to a second-quarter profit, boosted by its contract to supply the U.S. government with enough smallpox vaccine to inoculate every citizen.

Acambis, of Cambridge, England, also said Chief Executive John Brown will step down after almost seven years in the post. The company will appoint a successor as soon as possible; in the meantime, Mr. Brown will remain at the helm.

The company posted net profit of 9.9 million ($15.8 million or 14 million) for the quarter, compared with a net loss of 3.3 million in the second quarter last year. Sales rose more than fivefold to 40.5 million from 7.7 million.

Pretax profit rose to 11.1 million compared with a loss of 3.3 million. Acambis forecast full-year pretax profit of around 50 million, on sales of around 200 million, as it completes delivery of most of the U.S. smallpox order. Sales in 2004 are likely to fall to around 150 million, the company said.

Acambis said its pipeline of other vaccines -- including one for the West Nile virus -- is progressing well, and that it has more than 80 million in cash, which could be used to buy in more vaccines and drugs from outside.

"There's probably never a good time to go," Mr. Brown said. He said he hopes to be more permanently based in Scotland, after traveling extensively during recent years.

Acambis was brought to international attention when the U.S. government ordered hundreds of millions of dollars of the smallpox vaccine in late 2000. The U.S. increased its order after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, with a view to having enough of the vaccine to inoculate every citizen in the event of a terrorist threat. Acambis then posted its first profit in 2002.