Dublin-listed pharmaceutical company Open Orphan has reported an operating loss of £5m for the six months to the end of June but said its business outlook has never been stronger.

Open Orphan said its half year revenues came in at £7.1m as it continued to focus on delivering larger contracts. 

Open Orphan said it had completed the acquisition of hVIVO for about £13m in equity in January.

The group said it has a strong pipeline of contracted work and new projects at an advanced stage of negotiation and is targeting growth with strong operating cash flow in the second half of 2020, addiing that it is on target to be operationally profitable in the fourth quarter of this year. 

It also said it is well progressed in developing the world's first coronavirus human challenge study model to test a range of Covid-19 vaccines, complementing existing human challenge study models. 

"We are in advanced discussions and negotiations with a range of potential customers, including the UK Government to test Covid-19 vaccines," it added.

Cathal Friel, executive chairman of Open Orphan, said that since it bought hVIVO in January, the company has achieved what it set out to do. 

"We have created a leaner more efficient businesses, removed excess costs and we are now a truly unique clinical research organisation (CRO) that is the world leader in the testing of vaccines and antivirals through the use of human challenge clinical trials," Cathal Friel said. 

He also said the company had 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.

Looking ahead, Cathal Friel said he was "extremely excited" by the potential for the business as it entered a decade of significant spending on vaccines and antivirals by both governments and pharma companies around the world. 

"The Open Orphan Group including hVIVO and Venn Life Sciences is ideally positioned to capitalise on this increase in vaccine development expenditure," he said.

"Earlier this year we set ourselves the target of being profitable in the second half of 2020 and I am delighted to confirm that, despite profitability taking a few months longer than expected, we are on target to be operationally profitable in Q4 2020," he added.