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ORTHO DROPPING OUT OF McDONNELL DOUGLAS SPACE SHUTTLE PROGRAM

Executive Summary

ORTHO DROPPING OUT OF McDONNELL DOUGLAS SPACE SHUTTLE PROGRAM targeted at the production in space of an undisclosed pharmaceutical, the defense aerospace company announced in a Sept. 12 press release. Ortho signed an agreement with McDonnell Douglas in January 1980 for the production of an unnamed pharmaceutical product via McDonnell Douglas' electrophoresis operations in space (EOS) program. J&J indicated that the company has found that the product can more easily be produced on the ground. The EOS program involves a device that uses continuous flow electrophoresis that separates materials in solution by subjecting them to an electrical field. In background information on the program, McDonnell Douglas said that its analyses indicate the device "could, in a weightless environment, yield products in much higher quantities and purities than are possible on earth." McDonnell Douglas has conducted electrophoresis operation on six shuttle flights for Ortho. Following return of an August 1984 flight, an Ortho hormone separated by the electrophoresis process was found contaminated ("The Pink Sheet" Nov. 12, T&G-3). According to McDonnell Douglas, the contamination occurred during processing. The aerospace firm said it will continue to be actively involved with Ortho "in pursuing other pharmaceutical opportunities to process drugs in space." McDonnell Douglas also said it is "discussing potential new partnerships, both in the U.S. and internationally, for development, testing and marketing of new pharmaceuticals and biological materials processed in space." Although McDonnell Douglas has agreements with several other companies, such as DuPont, 3M, and Honeywell, the firm's only commercial venture with a pharmaceutical firm was limited to Ortho. McDonnell Douglas said that it is continuing to process materials in space for the Ortho product and that "selection of a new partner or partners for that development will be announced when appropriate." The firm commented: "We are continuing as scheduled, and we still expect that pharmaceuticals produced from these developments will be tested and on the market in the late 1980s."

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