Nitromed

(NTMD)

reported a wider second-quarter loss Wednesday, as the biotech company prepared for the possible launch of its promising heart drug.

The Lexington, Mass.-based biotech company posted a loss of $4.7 million, or 18 cents a share, vs. $3.1 million, or $3.88, in the year-ago period. The consensus forecast was for a deficit of 19 cents a share, according to Thomson First Call.

Revenue for the three months ended June 30 rose 38% to $2.3 million, primarily because of a milestone payment from

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

.

Nitromed also continued plans for the launch of its heart drug BiDil by signing a letter of intent to finalize an agreement with Publicis Selling Solutions of New Jersey to establish a sales force of up to approximately 200 people, which is expected to be on board in the first quarter of 2005.

Phase 3 clinical trials of BiDil, its lead drug in development for the treatment of African Americans with heart failure, were halted earlier than planned in July 2004 because of "the significant survival benefit seen with the drug."

General and administrative expenses rose 230% to $2.3 million.

Shares closed at $16.75 Tuesday.