Open Orphan eyes profitability as it reports £4.1m ebitda loss

Company led by Cathal Friel recorded revenues of £7.1m for its first half

Dublin-listed pharmaceutical services company Open Orphan says it expects to hit profitability in the fourth quarter.

The company has been aggressively pursuing new contracts, with business growing strongly amid the Covid pandemic. Earlier this week it confirmed that it had secured a new £4.3 million contract to conduct a human viral challenge study.

This is a world first, whereby healthy human volunteers are injected with a strain of the coronavirus to test the efficacy of experimental vaccines.

The UK-government-funded trial will take place at a 24-bed quarantine clinic in Whitechapel, London, run by hVivo, which was acquired earlier this year by Open Orphan.


On the back of that announcement, Open Orphan said it was “targeting growth with strong operating cash flow in the second half”.

Open Orphan is the result of executive chairman Cathal Friel reversing his pharma services business of the same name into Dublin-listed drug clinical trials manager Venn Life Sciences last year.

The company recorded revenues of £7.1 million for its first half and reported an ebitda loss of £4.1 million.

During the six months to the end of June, Open Oprhan completed the £13 million acquisition of hVivo and launched a new Covid-19 antibody-testing partnership with Quotient. It also undertook two fund raises totalling €17.9 million.

“Since we acquired hVivo in January 2020, we have achieved what we set out to do. We have created a leaner, more efficient business, removed excess costs and we are now a truly unique clinical research organisation that is the world leader in the testing of vaccines and antivirals through the use of human challenge clinical trials,” said Mr Friel.

“We have secured larger, more profitable contracts with both large pharma and the leading vaccine developers globally. We have delivered upon our aim of improving revenue streams through the delivery of several new revenue lines, including the provision of laboratory services to third parties. We have reinvigorated both the Venn Life Sciences business and the hVivo business during the first half of 2020 and have created a strong foundation for future growth,” he added.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist