By Mary Welch

COR Therapeutics Inc. received a $24 million milestone payment from Schering-Plough Corp. for winning U.S. marketing approval in May of Integrilin.

Integrilin (eptifibatide) is an anti-clotting agent used for patients with acute coronary syndromes and as an adjunct to percutaneous coronary intervention, which includes angioplasty, atherectomy and stent replacement. Acute coronary syndromes consist of unstable angina and non-Q-wave myocardial infarction. (See BioWorld Today, May 20, 1998, p. 1.)

The drug is available in the U.S. with the formal sales launch this week. The companies are co-promoting it.

The collaboration between South San Fracisco-based COR and Madison, N.J.-based Schering-Plough goes back to 1995, when the two inked a $120 million deal. COR received $20 million up front and $100 million in milestone payments. Analysts described pact as a fantastic deal for COR. (See BioWorld Today, April 12, 1995, p. 1.)

COR got another $8 million in February 1998 when its partner applied to market the drug in Europe. With this payment, COR has received about $60 million in milestones.

"We've got about $40 million more to go. Ain't life grand?" commented Vaughn Kailian, president and CEO.

COR is the third entrant in the battle for the $1 billion anti-platelet market and its drug has the broadest application. All three products are GPIIb-IIIa inhibitors. The other two are Aggrastat, which is sold by Merck & Co. Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J., and ReoPro, which is co-marketed by Centocor Inc., of Malvern, Pa., and Eli Lilly & Co., of Indianapolis.

Aggrastat, approved last month, treats acute coronary syndromes in patients who need only drug treatment, and in patients who are expected to undergo angioplasty or other artery-clearing procedures. It is approved for use in emergency rooms. RePro has a narrower indication and is approved for patients targeted for percutaneous coronary intervention. (See BioWorld Today, May 18, 1998, p. 1.)

According to Anthony Butler, an analyst with Lehman Brothers Inc., in New York, Integrilin will have a tough sell.

"If efficacy is what will drive the market — and as the market gets saturated that may be the question — it appears that RePro, despite having the narrower indication today, leads in that category," said Butler. "We believe RePro will continue to be the leader. Merck is a tough competitor. There are very few markets where they are not number one or two — if any."

"I think that's a big stretch to make," said Kailian. "These drugs have not been studied on the same patient populations. You can't compare cross-clinical trials. Integrilin is every bit as good as any drug on the market and it has the broadest label. That's a big deal."

Butler noted the market is expanding and predicts Integrilin's sales will hit the $30 million mark this year. "It's too early to predict figures for next year," he said.

COR's stock (NASDAQ:CORR) closed Wednesday at $16.18, down $0.47. *