Nova Pharmaceutical seeks approval to sell leukemia drug

April 21, 1992|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,Staff Writer

Nova Pharmaceutical Corp. has asked the federal government for approval to sell a drug thought to help leukemia patients whose bone marrow is damaged by chemotherapy and radiation.

Because a patient's bone marrow can be destroyed by high doses of chemotherapy and radiation, doctors remove some bone marrow, which generates blood cells, before treatment. Pergamid is used to rid the bone marrow of cancer cells before being returned into the patient's body.

Pergamid, in use at 90 cancer centers across the country on an experimental basis, could be used by 3,000 to 5,000 patients a year if it is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Nova Pharmaceutical said.

The company received approval last year from the FDA to charge $1,068 per patient for experimental use of the drug.

It takes the FDA an average of 24 to 36 months to act on a new drug application, but Nova Pharmaceutical thinks approval could be more rapid for Pergamid, which has been studied since 1982.

Pergamid is not a major focus of Nova Pharmaceutical Corp.'s research.

"It could pay for a few light bulbs, but it is not going to turn Nova from an research and development mode to a profit-making company," said Michael L. Demchuk Jr., vice president and chief financial officer of the Baltimore-based drug research and development company.

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