* Centocor Inc., of Malvern, Pa., has been sued in federal court in Philadelphia by shareholders alleging the company's stock was artificially inflated by false statements concerning the signing of a European marketing partner for Avakine. The lawsuit's plaintiffs are shareholders who bought stock between Dec. 2, 1997, and Dec. 16, 1997.

* CV Therapeutics Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., plans to file an investigational new drug application for CVT-510 as a treatment for atrial arrhythmias, including atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter and AV nodal re-entrant tachycardias. The compound is a selective adenosine A1 agonist and the second drug candidate to emerge from the company's molecular cardiology program. The first compound, CVT-124, recently completed a Phase II trial in patients with congestive heart failure.

* SmithKline Beecham plc, of London, and American Home Products Corp., of Madison, N.J., said they have discussed a possible merger, but no details were disclosed.

* Techniclone Corp., of Tustin, Calif., secured a commitment for a $5 million private placement, the terms of which are being finalized. The financing will provide for near-term operational needs, the company said, and will keep key clinical trial programs on track. Techniclone also reported that recent stock selling among corporate insiders was required to cover margin accounts that were called when the stock fell below $2.

* Connetics Corp., of Palo Alto, Calif., said results from a Phase I/II trial of the company's T cell receptor peptide vaccine for multiple sclerosis demonstrated the vaccine was safe and well-tolerated. The treatment is designed to stimulate the immune system to attack pathogenic T cells believed to be responsible for the disease. In the study, the response rate for vaccine-treated patients was double that of placebo-treated patients.

* Matritech Inc., of Newton, Mass., said it received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Cancer Institute to support development of the company's nuclear matrix protein tests for detection of bladder and colon cancer.

* Orquest Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., began a feasibility clinical trial of Ossigel for healing bone fractures. Ossigel, which is injected into fractures, is a form of basic fibroblast growth factor with a hyaluronic gel. The treatment is designed to stimulate cell division and blood vessel formation to accelerate the healing process.

* Schering-Plough Corp., of Madison, N.J., said the FDA has assigned "priority" status to its new drug application for approval of using the company's Intron A (interferon alfa-2b) in combination with Rebetol (ribavirin) to treat chronic hepatitis C. Schering-Plough licensed rights to ribavirin from ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Costa Mesa, Calif.

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