Mera Pharmaceuticals Continues Financial Improvement During First Quarter, Revenues Increase 47%

SAN DIEGO, Mar 16, 2004 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- Mera Pharmaceuticals has announced results for the first quarter of its fiscal year 2004 on form 10-QSB, filed today with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The results showed strong improvement, continuing a positive trend that the company began about a year ago.

Mera's revenues increased by 47%, rising to $268,000 compared to $182,000 for the same quarter a year ago. Also contributing to the overall improvement in financial performance was a 45% decline in expenses, led by a decrease in general and administrative expenses from $544,000 to just $222,000, a drop of nearly 60%. Mera's operating loss and net loss both declined a hefty 70%, the former from $666,000 in the first quarter of 2003 to just 198,000 this year, the latter to $188,000 compared with $628,000.

Dan Beharry, Mera's chief executive, described the results as "very encouraging. We were pleased by the magnitude of the improvement that we achieved last quarter, which was larger than expected. Our efforts during the past year to improve the company's fundamentals are clearly paying off. Expenses are under control and revenues continue to grow. While the company can only be truly pleased once it achieves profitability, the progress we have made over the last four quarters shows that we are headed in that direction.

"Our strengthened cash position will allow us to continue our progress by taking advantage of what we believe will be a significant expansion in the market for astaxanthin, our principal product, including sales under the AstaFactor(R) brand. We have developed a number of strategies for boosting AstaFactor(R) sales, and we will begin implementing them over the next few months. We will also launch a new AstaFactor(R) product near the end of April that should further increase revenues on high margin retail sales. The positive impact from those initiatives should start to show up this spring. That will provide further financial stability for the company."

Mera has plans to increase capacity for astaxanthin production at its Hawaiian research, development and production facility, in part through improving efficiencies and in part through capital spending. The result will be a decrease in unit production costs, which will help improve margins. As a sign of its upbeat outlook, Mera has recently increased the size of its Hawaii-based workforce, and efforts are underway to hire additional personnel. According to the company, the decision to hire was based on Mera's improving financial performance and its expectation of an increase in demand for its products.

Mera Pharmaceuticals, Inc., based in Kona, Hawaii, is focused on identifying and producing valuable products from the rich, untapped resource of microbial aquatic plants. Long recognized for their potential medical and nutritional value, these plants have been largely ignored because of the virtual impossibility of growing them at commercial scale. Mera has overcome that obstacle through application of its patented photobioreactor technology, which allows Mera to produce a large number of species at scale reliably, efficiently and at high quality. Mera's first nutraceutical product, the AstaFactor(R), is a concentrated source of natural astaxanthin, found in a number of fish and seafood species. Astaxanthin is known to be an effective anti-inflammatory and an extremely powerful antioxidant.

This press release contains forward-looking statements characterized by the use of words such as "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "feel" and similar expressions. Actual results might differ materially from those projected in, expressed in or implied by the forward-looking statements. The kinds of risks and uncertainties that could affect the future operating results of Mera include, without limitation: (i) the ability to attract new business for its existing products; (ii) the ability to identify new products and bring them to market; (iii) the ability to identify promising pharmaceutical candidates and, if they are identified, the ability to have them successfully complete the clinical trial process; (iv) the sensitivity of Mera to general economic conditions; (v) the inability to attract the additional investment needed to plans regarding the drug discovery and development business. Additional information concerning risk factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in forward looking statements can be found in Mera's SEC filings, including its Annual Report on Form 10-KSB and other periodic reports that it files under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended.

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