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CIBA-GEIGY WILL CONTRIBUTE $20 MIL. TO ARTHRITIS RESEARCH

Executive Summary

CIBA-GEIGY WILL CONTRIBUTE $20 MIL. TO ARTHRITIS RESEARCH at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, UCSD and Ciba-Geigy said in a March 6 joint announcement. The agreement establishes a new arthritis research unit at the UCSD School of Medicine. The program will be affiliated with the University of California's Institute for Research on Aging, an eight-year-old research unit that share the UCSD medical school facilities. Ciba-Geigy will have to option to obtain exclusive worldwide licenses for applications of the research it funds through the program. The firm's Voltaren (diclofenac sodium) is the largest-selling nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory treatment for arthritis symptoms. Launched a year-and-a-half ago, Voltaren has already surpassed $100 mil. in U.S. sales. The program will be headed by rheumatologist Dennis Carson, MD. The participation of Carson, who is being recruited from the Scripps Clinic, was central to Ciba-Geigy's interest in the program, according to the university. Carson has been affiliated with Scripps Clinic since 1976 and has served as division head of clinical immunology since 1986. He is scheduled to join the UCSD School on Medicine in June as professor of medicine and member of the Institute for Research on Aging. Under the agreement, Ciba-Geigy will give approximately $1 mil. a year in direct support of research done by Carson and his staff over the next six years. The support will be renewable for an additional four years. Ciba will also donate $6.6 mil. toward construction of a new clinical science facility being built on the UCSD campus, with additional funds for the lease of interim space for the arthritis researchers. The program will have a dual focus on research of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis and will seek to identify new therapies for both conditions. Osteoarthritis research will additionally focus on isolating the factors that cause degeneration of connective tissue in the disease. The program's rheumatoid arthritis research effort will concentrate on improved tests to assess and monitor the disease, advancement of methods of evaluating new drugs prior to administration to patients, and definition of the disease's underlying causes.

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