By Randall Osborne

Centocor Inc. has pulled its planned initial public offering (IPO) for a spin-off of its diagnostics business, citing unfavorable market conditions.

The IPO was intended to seek up to $40 million for the Malvern, Pa.-based company's diagnostics firm, Centocor Diagnostics Inc., whose lead product is P-Selectin Profile, a cardiovascular test. With it, physicians are able to quickly diagnose acute coronary syndrome (ACS) in patients, and determine which of them are suffering heart attacks and which are experiencing unstable angina. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 20, 1997, p. 1.)

P-Selectin Profile works by measuring the status of the P-Selectin protein on the platelet membrane and in blood plasma, which are indicators of platelet activation — an early indicator of ACS.

Centocor Diagnostics' product line also consists of monoclonal antibody-based in vitro tests and components and reagents for oncological indications. Accounting for more than 85 percent of revenues are three products: CA 15-3 for breast cancer; CA 19-9 for pancreatic cancer; and CA 125 II for ovarian cancer.

Centocor also has two drugs on the market: ReoPro (abciximab), an inhibitor of platelet aggregation that is used for reduction of acute ischemic cardiac complications in patients undergoing angioplasty; and Panorex (edrecolomab), sold only in Germany as adjuvant therapy in the treatment of post-operative colorectal cancer.

In the first nine months of the year, sales of ReoPro by Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. totaled $63.3 million, compared with $38.5 million for the same period last year — a rise of 64 percent.

Centocor's net income for the period was $8.4 million compared with a net loss of $15.7 million last year. In November, the FDA approved an expanded label for ReoPro. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 7, 1997, p. 1.) *