LONDON - French regulators gave the first marketing approval of Vernalis Group plc's migraine treatment Migard, opening the way for regulatory approval across the European Union under mutual recognition procedures.

Shares in the company, formerly called Vanguard Medica, rose by 24.5 pence to #2.40 when the news came out Friday.

Vernalis expects Migard (frovatriptan), the sixth triptan migraine treatment, to be launched in the first half of 2001. It will be marketed by the Italian pharmaceutical company Menarini, which has a sales force of 3,500.

Frovatriptan was licensed in from SmithKline Beecham, and Vernalis, based in Guildford, Surrey, is expected to get around 20 percent of the revenue.

In October 1999 the FDA deferred approval of Vanguard's migraine treatment, with a request for further toxicity data. Elan Pharmaceuticals, of Dublin, Ireland, has U.S. marketing rights. - Nuala Moran

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