BRUSSELS, Belgium ¿ The government of the Flemish region in Belgium has granted just under $3 million to Pharming Group, the Dutch biotechnology company with a focus on orphan drugs, to expand operations at its Belgian subsidiary. The company plans to build a state-of-the-art pharmaceutical plant for the purification of biopharmaceuticals produced in the milk of transgenic animals at its site at Geel, in the north of Belgium. A $12 million secured lending facility from a Belgian investor, FMN Finance, is also helping finance the completion of the pilot and main processing facilities at Geel.

Pharming plans to produce human alpha-glucosidase at Geel, for the treatment of Pompe¿s disease. A Phase II pilot clinical trial is under way in a Rotterdam children¿s hospital, and multicenter pivotal studies are planned for Europe and the U.S. later in 1999. Human C1 Esterase Inhibitor is also under development there for hereditary angioedema, for an estimated 50,000 patients, and first clinical trials are scheduled for 2000. Both products are produced in the milk of transgenic rabbits.

¿The government of Flanders is very actively supporting the biotechnology industry in the region,¿ said Pharming¿s managing director in Belgium, Rein Strijker. ¿ Peter O¿Donnell