MedImmune to report on Respivir testingThis week...

LIFE SCIENCES

May 04, 1993|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,Staff Writer

MedImmune to report on Respivir testing

This week, researchers will announce the complete results from the last phase of clinical studies on Respivir, a drug developed by Gaithersburg-based MedImmune Inc. The company already has said that the drug will be shown to be effective.

Respivir, which analysts project has an estimated $300 million market in the United States, would be used to prevent or treat a viral infection called respiratory syncytial virus in infants and young children. Certain children, including premature infants and those with chronic lung disease, are prone to get the infection, which can lead to pneumonia and bronchial infection.

The company submitted the data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December and asked for marketing approval.

The complete data will be presented Thursday in Washington at the Society of Pediatric Research. However, the company says the drug reduced the number of days that high-risk children spend in intensive care by 97 percent and reduced the number of moderate and severe cases of the illness by 72 percent.

If approved, the drug would be MedImmune's first major product and would bring a huge increase in revenues. The company's only other product, CytoGam, contributed $13 million in TC revenues in 1992.

But it may not bring manufacturing jobs to the region. MedImmune has contracted with a Massachusetts company to make the drugs. It will use its own sales force.

MedImmune said last week that it had entered into a distribution agreement with Boston International Health Care Corp. to distribute CytoGam in Eastern Europe and Russia. The drug is used to prevent a virus that develops in kidney transplant patients.

The news didn't appear to make a difference to investors. MedImmune's stock closed at $15, down 50 cents, yesterday, after trading at $14.75 a week ago.

St. Agnes Hospital aids heart-drug study

St. Agnes Hospital in Southwest Baltimore was a major contributor to a study that showed an American biotech drug is more effective in saving lives in heart attack patients than an older European drug.

The study included 41,000 patients at more than 1,000 hospitals around the world. St. Agnes treated 206 patients -- more than any other hospital in the study.

The hospital has been promoting its chest pain clinic in the community, in order to get heart attack victims to recognize the early stages of a heart attack and to seek help as early as possible, says Dr. Raymond Bahr, a cardiologist at St. Agnes.

Patients must be treated with the "clot buster" drugs within six hours after the beginning of a heart attack.

The study focused on the effectiveness of tissue plasminogen activator, or t-PA, made by California-based Genentech Inc. The drug is 10 times more expensive than streptokinase, which is manufactured in Europe and has been on the market.

Cryomedical lauded for Acuprobe device

Cryomedical Inc. of Rockville, a public company, has won an award for Acuprobe, a medical device that freezes cancer tumors. The device, which Cryomedical started selling last July, was named product of the year by the Montgomery County High Technology Council.

Acuprobe produced $2.8 million in revenues for Cryomedical between July 1992 and March 1993.

Results from several medical centers around the United States have shown that the device is effective in treating prostate cancer, according to the company. About 80 percent of the patients who underwent the treatment were free of cancer about three months later, which compares favorably to radical prostate surgery, says President J. J. Finklestein. The Acuprobe treatment costs about 50 percent less than a radical prostatectomy.

During the treatment a probe is inserted into the tumor and a cold solution injected. The frozen tumor eventually dissolves.

Mr. Finklestein says the company has back orders worth $2.1 million for 12 devices.

Viral Technologies testing AIDS vaccine

Bethesda-based Viral Technologies Inc., a joint venture of two Maryland biotech companies, says preliminary results from tests of its AIDS vaccine in mice were positive.

The vaccine would have to undergo years of testing in humans before it could be proved to be effective, however. Animal testing will continue and the company says it plans to apply for U.S. Food and Drug Administration permission to conduct human clinical trials based on those results.

The vaccine, hgp-30, was invented by a George Washington University researcher. Viral Technologies Inc. is owned by Cel-Sci Corp. and Alpha 1 Biomedicals Inc.

Scios Nova appoints Morris vice president

Scios Nova Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., appointed Arlene M. Morris vice president for business development. A former vice president for business research of McNeil Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, Ms. Morris has 20 years' experience in the industry.

Scios Nova has a laboratory in Baltimore. That part of the company was developed by Nova Pharmaceutical Inc. before its merger with Scios last fall.

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