SYDNEY - With the market launch of its first product, the flu-cure Relenza, within sight, Australian company Biota Holdings Ltd. expects to start making profits by the fiscal year ending June 30, 2001.

In a talk to the Securities Institute of Australia (an organization for professional investors) in Melbourne, Biota Managing Director Hugh Niall said Biota's development partner, Glaxo Wellcome plc, of London, expects to file for FDA approval of Relenza in the fourth quarter of this year.

That may mean the drug will be on the market for the 1999 Northern Hemisphere winter season, but it is more likely the drug will be available for the following winter, in 2000.

Biota has a 7 percent royalty on sales of Relenza, as well as a share in a flu diagnostic kit due to come onto the market. - Mark Lawson