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Acorda Therapeutics (Nasdaq: ACOR) swung to a profit in the third quarter on the launch of its new product Ampyra, a drug used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS).

For the third quarter, the company reported net income of $12.4 million, or $0.31 per diluted share, compared to a loss of $19.4 million, or $0.51 per share in the prior year quarter [see call transcript]. During the period, the company reported total revenue of $63.6 million, up from $15.2 million in the same quarter last year. Acorda recorded gross sales of $52.6 million for Ampyra, which it began shipping to specialty pharmacies in March.

The company said, however, that third quarter sales were impacted by a large backlog of prescription requests submitted earlier in the year for Ampyra, which were not all filled until the third quarter. This means that fourth quarter results could be lower than third quarter sales, Acorda added.

Gross sales of its muscle relaxer Zanaflex declined slightly during the quarter to $13.6 million, from $14.5 million in Q3 2009. The company reaffirmed that it expects Zanaflex sales to fall in 2010. Sales, general and administrative expenses for the quarter increased by 31% year-over-year, primarily on account of launch and marketing efforts for Ampyra.

Indeed, these efforts seem to working. At quarter-end, approximately 31,000 people with MS filled a prescription for Ampyra, representing almost 8% of all MS patients in the United States, according to the company.

Acorda also has in its pipeline GGF2, or Glial Growth Factor 2, a treatment for strokes. Data from two studies showed that GGF2 promoted functional recovery from stroke with treatment initiated up to seven days after the event. The company said it is now completing preparations for its phase 1 clinical trial in patients with heart failure.

As of September 30, 2010, Acorda held cash and cash equivalents of $245.8 million.

Disclosure: no position

Source: Acorda Therapeutics Swings to Profit in Q3 on New Launch of MS Drug