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Aegerion shares rise as it launches first drug

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) -- Aegerion Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Wednesday its fourth-quarter loss widened as it launched its recently approved drug, Juxtapid, a treatment for life-threatening levels of bad cholesterol.

Juxtapid won approval from the Food and Drug Administration in late 2012 and the company said the drug has been prescribed 85 times worldwide to date. The company said it expects sales of $15 to $25 million for 2013, though analysts said Wednesday the company is already on track to meet and possibly surpass that goal.

"Our calculations suggest the company can generate $13 million revenues with the 85 prescriptions generated so far," said Deutsche Bank analyst Robyn Karnauskas in a note to investors. A year of treatment costs more than $200,000 for patients with commercial health insurance.

Company shares rose $1.74, or 5 percent, to $36.21 in morning trading.

The Cambridge, Mass., company lost $21.8 million or 86 cents per share, in the last quarter of 2012, compared with a loss of $13.9 million, or 66 cents per share, in the same period of 2011. The company had no revenue in either quarter.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected a loss of 64 cents and no revenue.

The company's research and development costs for the quarter ticked up to $8.6 million. Selling and administrative expenses jumped to $13.1 million from $4.3 million, as the company began to market Juxtapid.

The drug is a treatment for homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia in conjunction with other measures to reduce "bad" LDL cholesterol. Aegerion must certify all health care providers that prescribe it due to a risk of liver damage. The company said it has trained 400 physicians to use the drug.

Aegerion believes there are about 3,000 people in the U.S. with the disease who do not respond to treatments like blood filtration.