LONDON - The FDA approval last week of Centocor Inc.'s monoclonal antibody Remicade (formerly Avakine) for the treatment of Crohn's disease is good news for U.K. company Celltech plc, on whose technology the product is based. The approval triggers a second license payment. With the launch of Remicade later this year, Slough-based Celltech will receive ongoing royalties on sales.

The license covers Celltech's Boss patent for the production of genetically engineered antibodies. Royalty payments from Boss licenses now cover six products, with a seventh awaiting FDA registration. Centocor, of Malvern, Pa., also expects to file an application at the end of this year for the approval of Remicade for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Celltech CEO Peter Fellner said the approval in Crohn's disease “evidences the increasing role of antibodies in the treatment of serious clinical indications.“

In the six months ended March 31, Celltech had licensing income of £5.7 million (US$9.5 million), up from £2 million for the same period a year earlier and reflecting the growing commercial significance of treatments based on monoclonal antibodies. Celltech's stock price rose £0.125 to £2.37 when the approval was announced. *