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BioTech Navigator Investment Newsletter - News 8 97 (Page 13)

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BioTech Navigator Investment Newsletter - News 8 97
BioTech Navigator, August 1997
like symptoms such as fever and chills
and usually occurred with the initial
dose. In addition, the sponsors pre-
sented information concerning relief
of tumor-related symptoms of fever,
night sweats and weight loss.
Current standard therapy
consists of chemotherapy and/or ra-
diotherapy, which have accompanying
toxicities. There are about 240,000
patients in the U.S. with non-
Hodgkin's B-cell lymphomas, which
are malignancies of the body's
antibody-producing immune system
cells. There are about 53,000 new
cases of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
reported each year. Sales of the drug
are estimated to reach $200 million in
On July 28
, Abbott Labora-
tories (ABT) and
Genset (Issue #5-
Genomics) reached agreements to
jointly study variations in patient re-
sponses to drug therapy based on ge-
netic differences. Abbott Labs said
the joint studies, called
"pharmacogenomics analysis" could
help to customize the use of pharma-
ceuticals for specific subgroups of pa-
tients. Under the alliance, Genset will
develop a high-density, bi-allelic
marker map of a human genome, and
will identify markers and genes asso-
ciated with response to the adminis-
tration of a pharmaceutical com-
pound. Abbott Labs will then de-
velop, produce and market diagnostic
systems derived from the genes and
markers to test patient response to
specific drugs.
Abbott Labs said it will in-
vest $20 million in Genset as part of
the agreement, including $10 million
initially, and another $10 million
upon exercise of a put-option by
Genset during the second year after
the initial investment. Both compa-
nies will receive research and devel-
opment fees and milestone payments
in their respective fields, and they will
share revenues from milestone and
royalty payments proportional to each
company's technology input. Genset
nues was primarily due to revenues
from its ProstaScint prostate cancer
imaging agent, which were offset
somewhat by a decrease in revenues
from its license and contract fees.
Total operating expenses for the sec-
ond quarter rose to $8.8 million from
$7.1 million a year ago.
Genentech (Issue #4-Breast
Cancer) said second quarter earnings
rose 9.5% to 19 cents a share com-
pared to a year earlier of 18 cents a
share. Revenue fell 4.2% to $233.5
million from $243.8 million a year
before. Earnings increase resulted
from cost-cutting measures and lower
On July 25
, a FDA panel
unanimously suggested approval of
Idec Pharmaceuticals Inc. (IDPH) and
Genentech's Rituximab or IDEC-
C2B8, a monoclonal antibody product
for relapsed low-grade follicular non-
Hodgkin's lymphoma. Members of
the FDA's Biological Response Modi-
fiers Advisory Committee weren't
asked to recommend approval but
voted 12-0 to affirm the drug's safety
and efficacy.
Roche Holdings unit
Hoffmann-LaRoche Ltd., Switzerland,
and Zenyaku Koguyo Co., Japan, also
participated in the development of
Rituximab. Rituximab works by bind-
ing to its target antigen and recruiting
the patient's natural defenses to attack
and kill both malignant and normal
mature B cells. In trials to date, the
normal B cells regenerate from stem
cells and return to normal levels
within months following treatment
with the drug.
Idec presented data showing
an overall response rate of 48% and a
median remission of nine months.
Rituximab is well tolerated and does
not impair marrow reserve and is
non-myelosuppressive, company offi-
cials said. Therefore, subsequent
chemotherapy is not precluded. Ad-
verse events seen with the drug were
usually infusion-related. Those side
effects include mild to moderate flu-
The current U.S. market for
injectable proteins and peptides is es-
timated at about $10 billion.
On July 23
, Chiron reported
quarter earnings to be 9 cents per
share, the same from a year earlier.
These figures include a gain of $12.1
million from sale of its 50% interest
in a generic chemotherapeutics busi-
ness. Chiron's second-quarter prod-
uct sales increased to $256 million
from $254 million a year earlier.
Product sales in the second quarter
were hurt by unfavorable foreign cur-
rency exchange rates which, when
compared to rates in effect last year,
reduced the increase by $11 million.
Second-quarter sales of branched
DNA probe kits increased 87% from a
year ago to $7 million, reflecting the
continued overall growth in the viral
load testing market for HIV. A 10%
increase in assay volume during the
second quarter fueled a $6 million
increase in sales of ACS immunodiag-
nostic products compared to a year
ago. Ophthalmic product sales de-
creased 11% in the second quarter due
to softening in the market for PMMA
intraocular lenses, the impact of com-
peting products, reduced sales of Vit-
rasert and unfavorable foreign ex-
change rates compared to the prior
year. Vaccine product sales from
Chiron's Italian unit decreased 12% in
the second quarter from a year ago,
primarily due to the strengthening of
the U.S. dollar against the talian lira
and reduced sales of pediatric oral
polio vaccines due to supply con-
On July 29
, Diametrics
Medical Inc. (DMED) announced it
expanded its distribution partnership
with Chiron's Chiron Diagnostics to
include selected Asia Pacific and
southern European markets. Terms
weren't disclosed.
For second quarter earnings,
Cytogen (Issue #3-Prostate Cancer)
reported a loss of 13 cents per share
versus a loss of 11 cents per share for
the same period. The increase in rev-

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