Pharmacopeia Inc. signed its fifth collaboration with a pharmaceutical firm that wants to use the Princeton, N.J., company's combinatorial chemistry to find new drug candidates.

The agreement with Daiichi Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., of Osaka, Japan, is worth $22 million to Pharmacopeia through an equity investment, licensing fees and research funds. A portion of the financing _ less than half _ will be paid up front with the balance of the money distributed over the next three years. Pharmacopeia also will receive milestone payments from Daiichi based on drug development progress and royalties.

In the collaboration, Pharmacopeia will use its combinatorial chemistry and screening technology to develop drug candidates for several molecular targets. Neither the targets nor the diseases were disclosed. Pharmacopeia also will put together libraries of chemical compounds for other Daiichi research programs.

Lewis Shuster, Pharmacopeia's chief financial officer, said the alliance with Daiichi is similar to his company's other four pharmaceutical partnerships.

Pharmacopeia's stock (NASDAQ:PCOP) closed Monday at $27, up $2, an 8 percent jump.

The deal is Pharmacopeia's first with a Japanese drug maker and second collaboration in two months. In early February 1996 the combinatorial chemistry firm signed an agreement with Bayer AG, of Leverkusen, Germany, for more than $20 million plus milestone payments and royalties. The diseases targeted in the research were not identified.

Pharmacopeia also has collaborations with Schering-Plough Corp., of Madison, N.J., for cancer and asthma drugs, and Berlex Laboratories Inc., of Richmond, Calif., for multiple sclerosis compounds. Berlex is a subsidiary of Schering AG, of Berlin, Germany.

Pharmcopeia's other alliance is with Sandoz Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, to generate compounds for the pharmaceutical firm's four main drug discovery areas _ cancer, organ transplant rejection, skin disorders and central nervous system diseases.

In early March 1996, Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy Ltd., also of Basel, said they intended to merge in a stock swap valued at about $30 billion. n

-- Charles Craig Staff Writer

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.