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AEterna Zentaris Reports First Quarter 2009 Financial and Operating Results

All amounts are in U.S. dollars

QUEBEC CITY, May 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ - AEterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ: AEZS, TSX: AEZ) ("the Company"), a global biopharmaceutical company focused on endocrinology and oncology, today reported financial and operating results as at and for the three months ended March 31, 2009.

    First Quarter 2009 Highlight

    Signing of partnership with sanofi-aventis for cetrorelix in benign
prostatic hyperplasia ("BPH") for the U.S. market:

    - Initial $30 million upfront payment to the Company;
    - Up to $135 million in additional payments upon achieving certain
      pre-established regulatory and commercial milestones;
    - Escalating double-digit royalties on future net sales of cetrorelix for
      BPH in the U.S.;
    - Sanofi-aventis responsible for the commercialization and booking of
      sales in the U.S.;
    - The Company retained certain rights to co-promote cetrorelix for BPH in
      the U.S.

Juergen Engel, Ph.D., AEterna Zentaris' President and Chief Executive Officer commented, "The first quarter of 2009 was marked by the signing of a major agreement with sanofi-aventis for the development, registration and marketing of our lead compound, cetrorelix, in BPH for the United States market. The agreement is an important milestone in our quest to bring cetrorelix to market, provide millions of men with a novel treatment for BPH and generate significant long-term revenue for the Company. We expect to disclose results of our Phase 3 program with cetrorelix in BPH over the next few months as we continue to evaluate other strategic partnerships for this compound. Furthermore, we will push forward our promising drug candidates in oncology, such as AEZS-108 and AEZS-112, while in collaboration with our partners, we expect to move perifosine and ozarelix to the final development stages."

Dennis Turpin, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of AEterna Zentaris added, "The recent partnership with sanofi-aventis has further strengthened our financial position. We are now well poised to continue to advance our lead compounds in endocrinology and oncology."


Consolidated revenues were $6.1 million for the three-month period ended March 31, 2009, compared to $9.7 million for the same period in 2008. The decrease is related to lower royalty revenues having been recognized in the first quarter of 2009. The comparative decrease is also attributable to euro to US dollar exchange rate fluctuations, given the comparative strengthening of the US dollar in the first quarter of 2009 vis-a-vis the euro.

Consolidated selling, general and administrative expenses were $3.6 million for the three-month period ended March 31, 2009, compared to $4.4 million for the same period in 2008. This decrease is primarily related to comparative euro to US dollar exchange rate fluctuations, given the comparative strengthening of the US dollar in the first quarter of 2009 vis-a-vis the euro, as well as to continuing cost-saving measures that were implemented beginning in the second quarter of 2008.

Consolidated R&D costs, net of tax credits and grants, were $11.4 million for the three-month period ended March 31, 2009, compared to $13.7 million for the same period in 2008. The comparative decrease in net R&D costs is largely attributable to euro to US dollar exchange rate fluctuations.

Consolidated net loss was $12.4 million, or $0.23 per basic and diluted share, for the three-month period ended March 31, 2009, compared to $10.9 million, or $0.20 per basic and diluted share, for the same period in 2008. This increase is mainly related to lower foreign exchange gains recorded in the three-month period ended March 31, 2009, compared to the same period in 2008. The increase is also related to a gain recorded in the three-month period ended March 31, 2008 on the disposal of Impavido(R), partially offset by the reduction in loss from operations in the three-month period ended March 31, 2009.

Consolidated cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments were $62.5 million as at March 31, 2009.


Management will be hosting a conference call for the investment community beginning at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time today, Wednesday, May 6, 2009, to discuss first quarter 2009 results. Individuals interested in participating in the live conference call by telephone may dial 416-644-3422, 514-807-8791 or 800-587-1893, or may listen through the Internet at A replay will be available on the Company's website for 30 days following the live event.

About AEterna Zentaris Inc.

AEterna Zentaris Inc. is a global biopharmaceutical company focused on endocrine therapy and oncology, with proven expertise in drug discovery, development and commercialization. News releases and additional information are available at

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, which could cause the Company's actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include, among others, the availability of funds and resources to pursue R&D projects, the successful and timely completion of clinical studies, the ability of the Company to take advantage of business opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry, uncertainties related to the regulatory process and general changes in economic conditions. Investors should consult the Company's quarterly and annual filings with the Canadian and U.S. securities commissions for additional information on risks and uncertainties relating to the forward-looking statements. Investors are cautioned not to rely on these forward-looking statements. The Company does not undertake to update these forward-looking statements, and we disclaim any obligation to update any such factors or to publicly announce the result of any revisions to any of the forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect future results, events or developments except if we are requested to do so by a governmental authority or applicable law.

Attachment: Financial summary

    Quarterly Consolidated Statements of Loss (unaudited)

                                                     Quarters ended March 31,
    (in thousands, except per share data)                 2009          2008
                                                           $             $
    Sales and royalties                                  4,971         7,942
    License fees and other                               1,140         1,806
                                                         6,111         9,748
    Operating expenses
    Cost of sales                                        3,694         4,604
    Research and development costs, net of tax
     credits and grants                                 11,437        13,689
    Selling, general and administrative                  3,554         4,404
    Depreciation and amortization
      Property, plant and equipment                        311           369
      Intangible assets                                    557           840
                                                        19,553        23,906
    Loss from operations                               (13,442)      (14,158)
    Other income (expenses)
    Interest income                                        156           277
    Interest expense                                        (2)          (15)
    Foreign exchange gain                                  900         2,255
    Gain on disposal of long-lived assets held for
     sale                                                    -           775
                                                         1,054         3,292
    Net loss for the period                            (12,388)      (10,866)
    Net loss per share
    Basic and diluted                                    (0.23)        (0.20)
    Weighted average number of shares
    Basic and diluted                               53,187,470    53,187,470

    Consolidated Balance Sheet Information (unaudited)
                                                         As at         As at
                                                      March 31,  December 31,
    (in thousands)                                        2009          2008
                                                           $             $

    Cash and cash equivalents                           61,994        49,226
    Short-term investments                                 477           493
    Accounts receivable and other current assets        11,008        12,005
    Property, plant and equipment                        6,345         6,682
    Other long-term assets                              39,207        39,936
    Total assets                                       119,031       108,342

    Accounts payable and other current liabilities      25,990        22,121
    Current portion of long-term payable                    48            49
    Long-term payable                                      143           172
    Non-financial long-term liabilities                 85,000        64,525
    Total liabilities                                  111,181        86,867
    Shareholders' equity                                 7,850        21,475
    Total liabilities and shareholders' equity         119,031       108,342

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