BELLUS Health reports results for fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2009

LAVAL, QC, Feb. 24 /CNW Telbec/ - BELLUS Health Inc. (TSX: BLU - News; the "Company") reported today its financial results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2009. All currency figures reported in this press release, including comparative figures, are in US dollars, unless otherwise specified.

"We continue to focus on effectively developing and adding value to the products in our pipeline," said Roberto Bellini, President and Chief Executive Officer. The Company continues to be extremely cost-conscious and our substantially reduced loss in 2009 reflects that vigilance."

For the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2009, the Company recorded a net loss of $5,360,000 ($0.03 per share), compared to $11,136,000 ($0.22 per share) for the corresponding quarter the previous year. For the year ended December 31, 2009, the net loss amounted to $8,227,000 ($0.06 per share), compared to a net loss of $48,095,000 ($0.97 per share) for the same period last year.

The decreased loss in current periods compared to the same periods the previous year is mainly due to a reduction in research and development activities, reduction in marketing activities in relation to VIVIMIND(TM), reduction in the workforce in March 2009, as well as other additional measures implemented by the Company to reduce its burn rate. In addition, results for the year ended December 31, 2009, include a gain on extinguishment of debt in the amount of $17,020,000 and a net credit for vacant space in the amount of $2,009,000 recorded in the second quarter of 2009.

As at December 31, 2009, the Company had available cash and cash equivalents of $13,393,000, compared to $10,595,000 at December 31, 2008.

The Company's consolidated financial statements and accompanying Management's Discussion and Analysis for year ended December 31, 2009 will be available in the coming days on SEDAR at and on the Company's web site at

2009 Highlights:

During the year, the Company raised more than CDN$30 million with the issuance of CDN$20.5 million of convertible notes in April and June 2009, and a rights offering totaling approximately CDN$9.7 million in September 2009.

In addition, BELLUS Health took significant steps to reduce its burn rate. In April 2009, the Company restructured the convertible notes due in 2026 and 2027, as well as the lease of the Company's main premises in Laval, Quebec, resulting in annual cash savings of approximately $4.7 million. Also in March 2009, the Company reduced its workforce by approximately 45%. The programs related to the Company's existing product and product candidates were not affected by the cuts, which were being made primarily in basic research and research-related functions, as well as support and administrative functions.

The following is an update on the Company's product candidates:

- Eprodisate (KIACTA(TM)) for the treatment of Amyloid A amyloidosis -
The Company plans to initiate a second Phase III confirmatory clinical
trial. In this regard, the Company is currently involved in discussions
with different parties to secure agreements in relation to the
continued development (including this second Phase III) and
commercialization of eprodisate (KIACTA(TM)).
- NC-503 (eprodisate) for the treatment of Type II diabetes and certain
features of metabolic syndrome - The Company expects to release the
final results of the Phase II clinical trial in the first half of 2010.
This study will serve as clinical proof-of-concept to support the
development program of a prodrug of NC-503, which is expected to enter
the preclinical development phase in the second half of 2010.
- Prodrug of tramiprosate for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease - The
Company expects to initiate a Phase I clinical trial during the first
half of 2010.

In January 2010, the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) issued a directive to provincial pharmacists associations requesting that pharmacists not sell natural health products that have not been issued a Natural Health Product Number (NPN) by Health Canada. The Company has taken a decision to temporarily cease its sales and marketing activities for VIVIMIND(TM) until a NPN number has been received for the product, expected in the middle of 2010. The Company plans on re-launching the product in Canada at that time. In the meantime, the product will still be available via internet at

Going Concern

As at December 31, 2009, the Company's committed cash obligations and expected level of expenses for the upcoming twelve months exceed the committed sources of funds and the Company's cash and cash equivalents on hand. There is a significant risk that the Company may not be able to continue as a going concern beyond the current year.

About BELLUS Health

BELLUS Health is a global health company focused on the development and commercialization of products to provide innovative health solutions to address critical unmet medical needs.

To contact BELLUS Health

For additional information on BELLUS Health and its drug development programs, please call the toll-free number 1 877 680 4500 or visit the Web Site at

Forward Looking Statements

Certain statements contained in this news release, other than statements of fact that are independently verifiable at the date hereof, may constitute forward-looking statements. Such statements, based as they are on the current expectations of management, inherently involve numerous risks and uncertainties, known and unknown, many of which are beyond BELLUS Health Inc.'s control. Such risks include but are not limited to: the impact of general economic conditions, general conditions in the pharmaceutical and/or nutraceutical industry, changes in the regulatory environment in the jurisdictions in which the BELLUS Health Group does business, stock market volatility, fluctuations in costs, and changes to the competitive environment due to consolidation, that actual results may vary once the final and quality-controlled verification of data and analyses has been completed, as well as other risks disclosed in public filings of BELLUS Health Inc. Consequently, actual future results may differ materially from the anticipated results expressed in the forward-looking statements. The reader should not place undue reliance, if any, on any forward-looking statements included in this news release. These statements speak only as of the date made and BELLUS Health Inc. is under no obligation and disavows any intention to update or revise such statements as a result of any event, circumstances or otherwise, unless required by applicable legislation or regulation. Please see the Annual Information Form of BELLUS Health Inc. for further risk factors that might affect the BELLUS Health Group and its business.

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