AXION DISTRIBUTING PROSCAR FOR PROSTATE CANCER PREVENTION TRIAL
AXION DISTRIBUTING PROSCAR FOR PROSTATE CANCER PREVENTION TRIAL (PCPT) as a contractor to the group running the NCI study, Axion Pharmaceuticals President Michael Goldberg told the Robertson Stephens Medical Conference in New York City Dec. 2. Goldberg reported that his company was "selected to provide the drug distribution services for what is going to be an 18,000- patient study to examine the use of Proscar (finasteride) in preventing the onset of prostate cancer." Axion is handling the distribution of the Merck product for the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG), which is running the study under the auspices of the National Cancer Institute. Through its "Oncology Therapeutic Network," Axion is providing direct delivery of the drug to the participating sites and the delivery of drug information reports and updates to the wide group of investigators involved in the trial. SWOG expects to have over 220 sites involved in the trial. The 18,000-patient PCPT study of men over 55 was launched Oct. 13. Enrollment is ahead of schedule, with 2,500 patients recruited. Half of the participants in the three-year trial will take Proscar 5 mg tablet per day for seven years. The balance of patients will take a placebo ("The Pink Sheet" Oct. 18, T&G-5). Axion appears to view its role in the Proscar trial as a version of now business development. The contacts the firm will develop and the infrastructure it will build in serving the large SWOG trial centers should supplement its position as a specialty distributor for cancer products. Goldberg reported that Axion is performing a similar function for a Johnson & Johnson leukemia outcomes prevention study at the Scripps Institute involving analogs of cladribine (2Cd-A, Leustatin). The major boost to Axion's position as a specialty firm was an agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb to establish a joint venture to deliver BMS' line of chemotherapeutic drugs to oncology offices around the U.S. That agreement expanded Axion's reach from 400 to over 2,000 physician offices ("The Pink Sheet" Sept. 13, T&G-7). Axion handles all logistical delivery problems and non-medical information requests for the venture. Goldberg maintained that the "BMS product line has about 70% market share of the traditional chemotherapeutic market." He explained that Axion's "interest was to tie into their industry- leading product line, and together we are offering customers more than they had before." Goldberg added that "what we have done at Axion is integrate with a market focus on the physician office center." South San Francisco-based Axion was one of 30 private companies making a presentation at the Robertson Stephens conference. With its recent visibility and the financial community's interest in marketing service firms in the drug industry, Axion would appear to be a likely candidate for a public offering if the markets open up again for medical firms in 1994.
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