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Axcan Pharma Outlines Growth Strategy at Annual Meeting of Shareholders

Feb 28, 2007 - 10:00 ET

MONT-SAINT-HILAIRE, QUEBEC--(CCNMatthews - Feb. 28, 2007) - In conjunction with its Annual and Special Meeting of Shareholders held today in Montreal, Axcan Pharma Inc. ("Axcan" or the "Company") (TSX:AXP)(NASDAQ:AXCA) outlined its operational milestones for 2007 and growth strategy.

Opening the meeting, President and Chief Executive Officer Frank Verwiel, M.D., reminded shareholders of Axcan's financial success during fiscal 2006 and the beginning of 2007: "We saw a significant increase in revenue in fiscal 2006; total revenue rose to US $292.3 million, which is a record. We also carried this strong trend into the first quarter of fiscal 2007, with record sales of $78.8 million, demonstrating that we have a very strong base from which we can accelerate our future growth. Axcan is on track to achieve its revenue guidance for fiscal 2007, which is in the range of $307 to $312 million, representing growth of approximately 5% to 7% compared to last year."


Reviewing Axcan's outstanding financial performance in fiscal 2006 and the beginning of 2007, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Steve Gannon commented that Axcan continued to show financial strength and flexibility in its balance sheet: "Our cash flows from operations amounted to approximately $84 million over the last twelve months; at the end of the first quarter of 2007 we had approximately $202 million in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments, and we also have an unused credit line of $125 million. This strong financial position will allow us to support our future growth strategies," explained Mr. Gannon.


Operational highlights discussed by Dr Verwiel include the preparation for the US launch of PYLERA, Axcan's novel three-in-one capsule therapy for the eradication of the bacterium Helicobacter Pylori, which received Food and Drug Administration approval in September 2006. The Company plans to launch PYLERA onto the US market in the first half of calendar 2007.

Also in September 2006, Axcan signed an exclusive license and co-development agreement with AGI Therapeutics, for AGI-010. AGI-010 is being developed for the treatment of Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease, but the clinical development of this next generation omeprazole also aims to address the control of night-time gastric acidity, known as Nocturnal Acid Breakthrough.


Dr Verwiel concluded the formal presentation with a review of Axcan's five-point strategy for growth, which includes capitalizing on opportunities to grow Axcan's base business. Axcan believes it has several prospects to increase sales from its key product franchises, and the Company also outlined life cycle management and other initiatives which aim to counter the effects of competition with its products.

Other highlights of the strategy include growth through new product launches including PYLERA; the advancing of Axcan's projects in research and development; and the international expansion of the Company.

Axcan also intends to grow the Company through business development initiatives, which may include in-licensing agreements and acquisitions of products or companies in the field of gastroenterology. Axcan is in an especially strong position to execute on this strategy, due to its solid financial position, solid track record in performing acquisitions and its experienced business development team, recently strengthened by the appointment of Darcy Toms as Vice President of Business Development.

Axcan has also recently enhanced its Scientific Affairs team, through the appointment of the following key individuals: Dr Guy Rousseau, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Dr. Marc Riviere, Vice President of Clinical Development, who both recently joined Axcan and Mr. Yves Dumoulin, who has been internally promoted to Vice President of Pharmaceutical Development.


Axcan also announced that their Investor Relations department had recently been awarded the "Grand Prix for Overall Best Investor Relations" for midcap companies, as part of the IR Magazine Canada 2007 Awards ceremony that was held in Toronto at the beginning of February. IR Magazine Awards are globally recognized as the most prestigious and accurate measure of outstanding performance in this field. Nominations are the result of an independent investor perception study that gathers votes from Canadian analysts and fund managers.

In addition, Isabelle Adjahi, Senior Director of Investor Relations and Communications at Axcan was awarded the prize for "Best Investor Relations Officer" for companies under CAN $1 billion market capitalization. "We are delighted to have received these awards, as a tangible example of the calibre and dedication of our employees, their opportunities and rewards at Axcan, as well as our commitment to creating shareholder value," commented Dr. Verwiel. "The awards also highlight Axcan's dedication to becoming the "reference" Company in our field."


Axcan is a leading multinational specialty pharmaceutical company focused on gastroenterology. The company develops and markets a broad line of prescription products to treat a range of gastrointestinal diseases and disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, cholestatic liver diseases and complications related to pancreatic insufficiency. Axcan's products are marketed by its own specialized sales forces in North America and Europe. Its common shares are listed on the NASDAQ Global Market under the symbol "AXCA" and on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol "AXP".
Caution regarding guidance and Forward-Looking Information and "Safe Harbor" statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995

This release contains forward-looking statements, which reflect the Company's current expectations regarding future events. To the extent any statements made in this release contain information that is not historical, these statements are essentially forward-looking, including, without limitation, the Company's guidance for fiscal 2007 in respect of revenues, research and development and selling and administrative expenses and are generally identified by words such as "anticipate," "expect," "estimate," "intend," "project," "plan" and "believe." Forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties and undue reliance should not be placed on these statements. Certain material assumptions are applied in making forward-looking statements, and actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from these expectations are outlined in the body of this news release, and also include the difficulty of predicting FDA and other regulatory approvals, acceptance and demand for new pharmaceutical products, the impact of competitive products and pricing, new product development and launch, reliance on key strategic alliances, availability of raw materials, the regulatory environment, fluctuations in operating results, the protection of our intellectual property and other risks detailed from time to time in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange and the Canadian Securities regulators.

The Company cautions that the foregoing list of factors that may affect future results is not exhaustive. Axcan undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement.

PYLERA is a trademark of Axcan and its affiliates.

Axcan Pharma Inc.
Isabelle Adjahi
Senior Director, Investor Relations and Communications
450-467-2600 ext. 2000