After being put to sleep for much of 2006 following an unexpected FDA smackdown on its lead drug, indiplon, shares of Neurocrine Biosciences (NASDAQ:NBIX) have boosted over 50% higher versus its lows last year.

Neurocrine announced its first-quarter financial results last week. With no drugs on the market, the only financial metric worth following at this point is its cash burn rate and balance. Neurocrine burned through $16 million in cash and equivalents while ending with $167 million for the quarter. This gives Neurocrine enough dough to last it until any decision on indiplon next year.

Speaking of indiplon, Neurocrine plans on resubmitting another marketing approval application for the drug with the FDA by the end of the second quarter. After its collaboration agreement with Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) was terminated last year, Neurocrine will need to find a new marketing partner if indiplon receives approval when the FDA renders another decision on it in 2008.

Finding a committed marketing partner for indiplon will be almost as important as getting the drug approved. Without a rich, large pharma marketing partner to compete against Sepracor (NASDAQ:SEPR), Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE:SNY), and the newly-launched generic sleep disorder compounds in this ultra-competitive market, Neurocrine's indiplon is going to have a tough road ahead -- and probably won't fair much better than Takeda's rozerem and its sub-$100 million in low-margined sales.

After restructuring itself to cut its expenses nearly in half versus a year ago, Neurocrine can continue to advance its moderately sized pipeline without burning through so much cash and heavily diluting shareholders in the process. While I'm not convinced of indiplon's competitive profile versus the competition, at least Neurocrine is on much steadier ground than it was a year ago.  

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Fool contributor Brian Lawler does not own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Pfizer is an Inside Value selection. The Fool has a disclosure policy.