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InterMune loss widens in first quarter on costs

BRISBANE, Calif. (AP) -- InterMune Inc. said Wednesday that its loss widened in the first quarter as the drug developer's research and selling costs outweighed higher sales of its lung disease treatment Esbriet.

The Brisbane, Calif., company reported a net loss of $49.9 million, or 64 cents per share, compared with a loss of $46.6 million, or 72 cents per share, in the first three months of 2012.

The company's sales jumped more than 50 percent to $10.5 million in the quarter as it rolled out Esbriet in Europe. InterMune stood by its outlook for Esbriet sales of $40 million to $70 million this year.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected the company to report a loss of 74 cents on sales of $10.6 million.

The company's costs increased 16 percent to roughly $58 million on higher research, selling and general business expenses.

Esbriet is designed to treat a terminal lung disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF, which causes inflammation and scarring of the lung. InterMune began selling Esbriet in Germany in September 2011, and it is now available in a number of European countries. The treatment has not been approved in the U.S.

On Jan.2 the drug won approval in Canada. Later that month the company completed enrollment in a late-stage study of the drug designed to win approval in the U.S.

InterMune shares fell 16 cents to close at $9.34.