J&J/BRITISH BIO-TECHNOLOGY "SECOND-GENERATION" ANTI-CHOLESTEROL DRUG
J&J/BRITISH BIO-TECHNOLOGY "SECOND-GENERATION" ANTI-CHOLESTEROL DRUG will be marketed in the U.S. and elsewhere outside the U.K. by Johnson & Johnson under a "long term" R&D agreement announced July 19. British Bio-technology Ltd. will retain rights in the U.K. The agreement involves joint development of new chemicals produced by British Bio-technology's research on second generation synthetic HGM-CoA reductase inhibitors. The agreement calls for British Bio-technology to conduct the "discovery" phases of the research, including chemical synthesis and pharmacological testing. J&J subsidiary McNeil Pharmaceutical will handle preclinical toxicology and clinical testing for international registration. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed. J&J said the anticholesterol drug R&D agreement is the first research collaboration announced between the two firms. Earlier this year, J&J completed an $ 1.8 mil. equity investment in British Bio-technology, acquairing 500,000 shares, which represents a 5.7% interest in the Oxford, England-based biotech company. Announcing the contract, British Bio-technology CEO Keith McCullagh said that "the planned program combines British Bio-technology's highly competitive medicinal chemistry with pharmacological research in the cholesterol-lowering field with Johnson & Johnson's international marketing strengths." McNeil President Thomas Odiorne added: "We're very pleased to have the opportunity to broaden our research base as part of our continuing search for promising new drugs to treat cardiovascular disease." SmithKline, which also holds a 5.7% position in British Bio-technology, currently has agreements with the company for the marketing of British Bio-technology's Designer Genes synthetic genes and for research and development of second generation thrombolytic agents. SmithKline recently discontinued thrombolytic R&D programs with Biogen and Damon Biotech in the U.S., but decided to stick with British Bio-technology. The U.K. biotech firm also recently announced research collaborations with Pfizer, in the area of vascular biology and endothelial research, and with Abbott, for diagnostics products.
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