PerImmune Inc., a privately held Rockville biotechnology company, said yesterday that it has struck an agreement with a California medical and surgical instruments company to market its rapid test for bladder cancer.
The deal with Mentor Corp. of Santa Barbara, Calif. represents PerImmune's second product to be commercialized. The other product is a bladder cancer treatment, known as TICE-BCG.
Peter Shepard, Mentor's vice president for business development, said the agreement with PerImmune called for the companies to evenly split revenues from sales of AuraTek FDP, the bladder cancer test.
"This is a great opportunity for Mentor," said Shepard. "It will strengthen our position in the urology market."
Mentor markets products for impotence, female incontinence and prostate cancer.
Shepard said publicly held Mentor has high hopes for the bladder cancer test because it has been shown in clinical trials to be highly accurate, easy to use and inexpensive.
It will sell for about $25, he said, and should be on the market by October.
The urine test can be performed in a physician's office, yielding results in about seven minutes.
The test, which was cleared for marketing by the Food and Drug Administration in late April, is designed to check for the recurrence of bladder cancer, which has a return rate of about 75 percent, according to the companies.
The current method for determining a recurrence of bladder cancer requires inspecting the organ with a surgical scope.
It also involves sending a urine sample to a laboratory and waiting about 10 days for a result. The procedure and urinalysis cost between $50 and $100.
Mentor said the market potential for AuraTek in the United States includes about 300,000 patients diagnosed with bladder cancer and the 55,000 who are newly diagnosed each year.
The company, said Shepard, also sees strong sales potential for the test in Europe and Asia, where the incidence of smoking is high. Medical experts say smoking contributes heavily to bladder cancer.
Chinese health officials are interested in the test, Shepard said.
Shepard said Mentor and PerImmune hope to win FDA approval to use AuraTek as an initial screening test for bladder cancer.
Mentor and PerImmune can expect competition in the future as other companies develop new tests for cancer recurrence.
Oncor Inc., a Gaithersburg company specializing in genetic tests for diseases, is developing a new screening test for bladder cancer recurrence.
Michael G. Hanna, PerImmune's chairman and chief executive officer, said the Mentor agreement was part of the company's strategy to seek marketing partnerships with drug and medical supply companies.
Mentor, which posted a $27.9 million profit on sales of $203.4 million in the fiscal year that ended in March, said it hopes to establish a long-term relationship with PerImmune to market other urology-related products. Mentor's leading sales are in plastic surgery products, followed by products for urology.
PerImmune is concentrating on new treatments and diagnostic tools for cancer.
Among the products being developed by PerImmune are a treatment to trigger the body's immune system to fight bladder cancer. It is intended to be used by patients who do not respond to the TICE-BCG treatment.
Pub Date: 6/19/97