MedImmune (MEDI) said third-quarter earnings more than doubled, surpassing analyst forecasts as a result of gains in Synagis, by far its biggest drug.

MedImmune said latest-quarter net income was $5.9 million, or 3 cents a diluted share, compared to $2.8 million, or 1 cent a diluted share, in the 1999 third quarter. The consensus analyst forecast was 2 cents a share, according to

First Call/Thomson Financial

.

"The third quarter was a period of tremendous progress across many areas of our business," said CEO David M. Mott.

MedImmune said revenue rose to $57.3 million from $55.6 million a year ago. Synagis sales rose 30% to $31.6 million in the quarter, exceeding analysts' forecasts of $17 million to $28 million.

Synagis treats respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, a common infection that can kill premature babies. The drug, approved in the U.S. in 1998, is most widely prescribed in colder months, so first- and fourth-quarter sales are stronger. First-quarter 2000 sales were $176.5 million, while second-quarter sales were $7 million. There are no competitors to the drug.

Gaithersburg, Md.-based MedImmune also sells Ethyol, a therapy for chemotherapy patients, with

Alza

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(AZA)

and

Schering-Plough

(SGP)

. Sales of Ethyol were flat at $5 million in the third quarter.

Synagis is sold in Europe by

Abbott Labs

(ABT) - Get Report

, which pays MedImmune between 40% and 50% of sales.

MedImmune rose $1.62 Wednesday to close at $60.31.