By Randall Osborne

Days after it filed a new drug application (NDA) with the FDA for its topical treatment for oral herpes, Lidak Pharmaceuticals Inc. said its marketing partner for the product, Bristol-Meyers Squibb Co., has dropped out of the deal.

Lidak, of La Jolla, Calif., is taking in stride New York-based Bristol-Myers' cancellation of the marketing license.

"We don't really have a lot of indications why [Bristol-Myers chose to cancel its marketing license], except that we know it has nothing to do with the efficacy of the product," said Lisa Katz, director of corporate communications and investor relations at Lidak.

Nancy Goldfarb, spokeswoman for Bristol-Myers, said the company "had to make a tough decision. We determined the project just doesn't fit into our long-term strategic business plan. The analgesics area is obviously a major focus. Otherwise, I think projects are evaluated on a case-by-case basis."

She said the decision does not reflect on the viability of Lidakol, and Bristol-Myers would not be averse to considering future collaborations with Lidak.

Katz noted Lidak submitted its NDA to the FDA "in record time, less than four months after completing the most recent Phase III trials." She said the movement of Lidakol toward the marketplace is "going along beautifully," despite Bristol-Myers' decision. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 29, 1997, p. 1.)

Lidak is seeking another marketing partner. "This is just another great opportunity for us to maximize Lidakol's marketing potential," Katz said.

The drug is a long-chained fatty alcohol that works by interfering with viral entry into target cells — rather than attacking the virus after it has penetrated the cells — and has been shown to reduce the healing time of herpes episodes to a statistically significant degree.

Lidak's stock (NASDAQ:LDAKA) closed Monday at $1.781, down $0.062. The company announced Dec. 31, after the market closed, that Bristol-Myers was pulling out of the marketing deal.

On the next trading day, Jan. 2, Lidak's shares closed at $1.844, a 22 percent drop. *