By Kim Coghill

Washington Editor

For the second time in a month, Aviron Inc. raised $8 million through the sale of common stock to Acqua Wellington North American Equities Fund Ltd.

The company said it sold 143,512 shares to Acqua Wellington at $55.74 per share. The price per share is slightly higher than the rate in early November when Mountain View Calif.-based Aviron sold Acqua Wellington 153,448 shares at $52.13 each. In both cases, sales prices were determined using a volume-weighted 18-day average market price.

Aviron's stock (NASDAQ:AVIR) closed Thursday at $53, down 12.5 cents.

John Bluth, Aviron's associate director of corporate communications, told BioWorld Today that the company intends to use proceeds to fund operating costs, capital expenditures and working capital needs likely to include costs associated with the commercialization of FluMist, an intranasally delivered attenuated live vaccine for influenza.

Aviron on Oct. 31 submitted the FluMist biologics license application to the FDA. The company anticipates a response by early January, and acceptance will trigger a $15.5 million milestone payment from marketing partner Wyeth Lederle Vaccines, a division of Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories and American Home Products Corp., of Madison, N.J. Upon FDA approval, Bluth said Aviron will receive a $20 million milestone payment and also is entitled to royalties on sales and transfer payments for manufacturing.

The agreement with Wyeth Lederle potentially is worth more than $400 million for Aviron. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 13, 1999.)

But the effort to introduce FluMist to the market was not without hurdles. Despite positive results from a two-year Phase III trial, the FDA in 1998 asked for manufacturing data. (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 2, 1998.)

However, approval this go-round is expected and Aviron is looking forward to launching the product next fall.

"We are now taking steps so that we are prepared to launch FluMist during the next flu season," said Bluth. "We've been developing our commercial infrastructure, we expect substantial demands for FluMist and need to have the commercial infrastructure to meet that demand."

Aside from development of the first generation of FluMist, Aviron has other products in the pipeline, including a second generation of FluMist. The difference in the products is that the second generation can be shipped and stored in liquid form while the first generation is frozen. Bluth said the second generation, currently in Phase III trials, will be particularly important to the international market.

Meanwhile, in a collaborative effort with SmithKline Beecham plc, of London, Aviron has a product in Phase II clinical trials in Europe for the Epstein-Barr virus, a herpes virus that causes infectious mononucleosis.

Aviron and the National Institutes of Health have a product in Phase I trials for cytomegalovirus. The company has preclinical programs for herpes simplex virus type 2, respiratory syncytial virus and parainfluenza virus.