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MARION BUILDS BRIDGE TO ORIENT ON CARDIZEM SUCCESS; JOINT VENTURE WITH CALCIUM CHANNEL BLOCKER-DEVELOPER TANABE INITIALLY GIVES MARION FOUR NEW R&D COMPOUNDS

Executive Summary

Marion is building on its R&D route to the Orient via a joint venture agreement with the Cardizem connection Tanabe. Marion announced the agreement in an Aug. 30 press release. Marion said it has signed an agreement in principle to establish a U.S. joint venture with the Japanese firm Tanabe Seiyaku "for the purpose of developing, licensing and marketing, and ultimately manufacturing certain Tanabe compounds in the U.S. and Canada." The "initial phase" of the partnership will cover the U.S. development of four Tanabe compounds: the muscle relaxant alaqualone, the oral cardiotonic agent denopamine, the synthetic penicillin antibiotic aspoxicillin, and the anticancer agent TA-077, the release notes. Alfaqualone is already being marketed in Japan by Tanabe, Marion said. The other three compounds are currently in development in Japan. "Though this venture with Marion, Tanabe will have an organization which is responsible for developing and registering Tanabe compounds with the U.S. FDA and the Canadian health authorities," the U.S. firm explained. "In the future, a joint venture corporation will be formed for manufacturing and marketing Tanabe compounds to be selected and agreed upon by both firms." Marion said that a name for the joint venture has not yet been determined. The U.S. firm also noted that final details of the arrangement are still being worked out and should be completed by this fall. The joint venture will be headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., where Marion is based. Marion is clearly an attractive partner for Tanabe based on the successful development and marketing of Cardizen. Although last to be approved among the currently marketed calcium channel blockers, Cardizem is now among the fastest growing new products on the U.S. market with projected sales of $60 mil. in FY 1984 (ended June 30) -- the cardiovascular agent's second year on the market. The release notes that "because of Marion's successful marketing of Cardizem in the U.S. and Canada, the joint venture will encompass potential analogues of diltiazem for use in the cardio/cerebrovascular fields as follow-up compounds." Tanabe is following the same approach to developing a U.S. presence as taken earlier by Takeda in its joint venture with Abbott, which now has four compounds awaiting FDA approval. The arrangement with Tanabe is Marion's third licensing agreement announced in the last five months, and represents the second time Marion has looked to Japan for R&D licensing in that period. In April, Marion announced a licensing agreement covering an isosorbide dinitrate transdermal patch with Japanese firms Electric Industrial and Toa Eiyo ("The Pink Sheet" April 23, p. 11), and a month ago Marion reported an agreement with Nova covering early stage R&D compounds ("The Pink Sheet" July 30, T&G-1).

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