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ATHENA’s ACQUISITION OF PERMAX ADDS UP TO $10 MIL. IN REVENUES

Executive Summary

ATHENA's ACQUISITION OF PERMAX ADDS UP TO $10 MIL. IN REVENUES to the neuroscience start-up firm. Athena Neurosciences acquired exclusive U.S. marketing and distribution rights to Lilly's dopamine receptor agonist under an agreement announced April 19. Athena will use its 30-rep specialty sales force to promote Permax (pergolide) to neurologists as an adjunctive therapy to levodopa in the treatment of Parkinson's disease. Industry sources estimate sales of Permax, which was introduced in the U.S. in 1989, to be between $8 mil. and $10 mil. Lilly will continue to manufacture Permax and supply the drug exclusively to Athena for marketing and distribution in the U.S. for an initial 10-year period in exchange for total license payments of $36 mil. Lilly will continue to market Permax outside the U.S. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval. The two companies also announced April 21 that they have "strengthened" their collaboration on Alzheimer's disease research. An amended agreement provides for Athena to expand its internal Alzheimer's research activities in chemistry and pharmacology in exchange for certain U.S. copromotion rights to any products that result from the collaboration. The amended agreement will enable Athena to "accelerate the pace of this program with additional resources of our own," company President and CEO John Groom explained. The Alzheimer's research collaboration between the two companies began in 1988, and in 1991 the original agreement was extended through December 1996. Among the discoveries resulting from the joint basic scientific research was Athena's discovery that a molecule known as beta-peptide can be found in small amounts in human cerebrospinal fluid, as well as in brain cells. Beta-peptide is the primary component of amyloid plaques, which appear in large quantities in the brain tissue of Alzheimer's patients and are a defining characteristic of the disease. Thus cell culture models can be used to screen for compounds that block the release or formation of beta-peptide, possibly preventing the formation of amyloid plaque deposits in the brain. Separately, Athena announced April 20 that it will return worldwide license rights to AN051 (dezinamide) to American Home Products subsidiary A. H. Robins and will suspend its development of the molecule as an epilepsy treatment. Athena cited the "highly competitive environment that is anticipated in the anticonvulsant market in the next few years" as the reason for the decision.
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