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Executive Summary

ROCHE VP-EXPLORATORY RESEARCH PATRICK GAGE JOINING GENETICS INSTITUTE as senior VP-scientific affairs. Gage, who has been with Roche for approximately 18 years, will report to Genetics Institute President Gabriel Schmergel in his new position. While at Roche, Gage was instrumental in the company's early participation in the biotechnology industry, including the development of Roferon with Genentech and the purification efforts for interferon using technology from Damon Biotech. Roche was also an early partner with Immunex and is still developing an interleukin-2 product licensed from that firm. At one point early in the decade, Roche called itself on its corporate masthead a "pioneer in biotechnology." At Genetics Institute, Gage will be working with another interferon product, Wellferon, licensed to Burroughs Wellcome. Genetics Institute is also nearing the market with an erythropoietin product (see story above) and has clinicals underway for a Factor VIII:C and GM-CSF granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor. Gage's departure from Roche contributes to the image of a prolonged R&D dryspell at Roche. The firm has stayed successful in the marketplace through the Glaxo co-marketing deal on Zantac and the introductions of Roferon and Versed, but its pipeline has been slow to feed new products. For example, two co-marketing products to be shared with Glaxo in the cardiovascular field -- Inhibace (cilazapril) and Cipralan (cibenzoline) -- continue to be tied up. The firm also has apparently decided to let Schering-Plough take the lead in further indications for alfa interferon. Schering recently reported an Intron A filing for hepatitis B and C ("The Pink Sheet" Oct. 16, T&G-6). Roche is developing interferon for concomitant use with Retrovir (AZT).

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