LONDON ¿ Scotia Holdings plc, of Stirling, Scotland, has been assigned FDA fast-track status for its lead product, the photodynamic-therapy drug Foscan, in the palliative treatment of recurrent, refractory or second primary squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck, in patients considered to be incurable with surgery or radiotherapy.

Robert Dow, CEO of Scotia, said the development is ¿excellent news for Foscan on two counts. First, it demonstrates that the FDA regards Foscan as a drug that has the potential to make a significant medical contribution. Second, it means that the time to bring Foscan to the market is likely to be shortened.¿

Scotia, which specializes in lipid drugs, had a setback in its plans for Foscan in November 1998, when Boehringer Ingelheim terminated a $39 million licensing deal for the product agreed upon in September 1997. Scotia said this would delay the NDA, which was due to be lodged in the first quarter of 1999. This will now take place by the end of the third quarter of 1999. ¿ Nuala Moran