By Karen Young

DOV Pharmaceutical Inc. completed a $10.4 million Series D convertible preferred stock financing, which will allow the company to ¿continue the advanced clinical development of the compounds that we presently have in the clinic, as well as bring along some of our preclinical leads,¿ said Arnold Lippa, CEO and co-chairman of the board.

Lippa said privately held DOV, of Hackensack, N.J., aims to pursue acquisitions of drug candidates addressing large markets; establish a diversified product portfolio; focus on further developing licensed drug compounds; and establish collaborations with major pharmaceutical companies.

¿We have brought in more expertise, and with more financial backing we think we are on the road to becoming an emerging pharmaceutical company,¿ Lippa said. ¿And now we have our own in-house discovery programs as well as discovery licensing possibilities.¿

DOV is partnered with Wayne, N.J.-based American Cyanamid Co. (part of Madison, N.J.-based American Home Products), a relationship begun in May 1998 when the company in-licensed four compounds for any indication, including pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia and addiction disorders.

A drug known as 273,547, for anxiety and epilepsy, is to begin Phase II trials this quarter. DOV is joint-ventured for oral formulations of this compound with Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, Ireland. Another compound in-licensed from American Cyanamid is 220,075 for pain. It is slated for a pivotal Phase II trial to begin this quarter and also is joint-ventured for oral formulations with Elan Corp. DOV owns 80 percent of the joint venture.

For insomnia, DOV has a compound designated 285,489, set to begin a Phase III trial this quarter and licensed to Neurocrine Biosciences Inc., of San Diego. A final compound is in-licensed from American Cyanamid, 216,303, for depression and alcoholism. It is now in a Phase I trial and is being developed in-house. (See BioWorld Today, July 10, 1998.)

Another drug, tagged 72,132, for angina and hypertension, is in Phase I trials, and a Phase II trial is set to begin in the second quarter of next year for angina. This compound, DOV¿s proprietary formulation of diltiazem, is licensed to Biovail Corp., of Toronto. DOV said Wednesday that this new formulation of diltiazem, which is in clinical pharmacokinetics studies, has distinct advantages over other brands of the generic drug.

¿Our proprietary formulation was developed to overcome the deficiencies of the drugs that are presently on the market, and it does that by giving better coverage during the day, particularly during the morning,¿ Lippa told BioWorld Today.

DOV reported Wednesday that ¿significant fees¿ will be paid to it by Biovail upon completion of set milestones, along with a royalty based on a double-digit percentage of net sales of licensed products. DOV also stated that it will manage development of the product, funded by Biovail up to a specific, undisclosed amount. The companies will share worldwide co-promotion rights on any resulting commercial products.

The firm also discovered three novel compounds that could be used for the treatment of several disorders of the central nervous system.

Lippa co-founded the company in 1995 with Bernard Beer, co-chairman of the board and president. The two worked together at American Cyanamid before striking out on their own, Lippa said. The company focuses on ion channels and transporter proteins.

He would not disclose how much money DOV has raised to date, since its financial sources have not been traditional venture capital funding.

This latest financing was led by Merlin BioMed Private Equity Fund with participation by Oppenheimer Discovery Fund and other investors. Lazard Freres & Co. served as placement agent. Biotechnology Value Fund also is an investor.

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