Atrix Laboratories Inc. and Block Drug Co. have signed anagreement, in excess of $50 million, under which Block Drugreceives North American and certain European marketing rights tothe first three Atrix products for the treatment of periodontal disease.

Atrix will receive 40 percent of the $50 million in the next two years,John Urheim, CEO of Atrix, told BioWorld Today. The money willbe tied to regulatory milestones "or things of that nature." The other60 percent, he said, will be paid to Atrix over the next three to fiveyears and will be tied to performance-based milestones.

The all-cash deal, which included an undisclosed signing bonus, alsospecifies that Atrix will manufacture all three products and receiveroyalties on sales.

Founded in 1986, Atrix, of Fort Collins, Colo., is a drug delivery andmedical device company. Its platform technology comprises theATRIGEL biodegradable polymeric drug delivery system, which canbe used for various applications, including drug delivery, medicaldevices and treatment of periodontal disease. Atrix currently has 19U.S. patents on this technology.

The first product in the agreement, the ATRISORB Barrier forGuided Tissue Regeneration, was approved by the FDA in March andcurrently is being marketed in the U.S. and several other countries.Block received North American marketing rights to this product inthe deal, while Atrix retains the European marketing rights, said LeeSouthard, president of Atrix.

The ATRISORB Barrier for Guided Tissue Regeneration is a deviceused during gum surgery in which the roots of the affected tooth areexposed. The product uses a barrier to selectively promote the growthof cells that will re-anchor teeth to the jawbone.

"The ATRISORB Barrier for Guided Tissue Regeneration aids in thehealing of the attachment tissues that are surrounding periodontalsurgery and excludes epithelial tissue," Southard explained. "Thissystem is quick and easy to use.

"There is also a follow-on product in this agreement called theATRISORB GTR Barrier With Doxycycline," Southard said, "whichhas the same marketing rights as the ATRISORB Barrier for GuidedTissue Regeneration tied to it. This product will begin pivotal humanclinical trials in 1997."

ATRISORB GTR Barrier with Doxycycline adds an antibiotic to theATRISORB Barrier for Guided Tissue Regeneration to yield a GTRbarrier that provides both tissue isolation and localized infectioncontrol.

The third product is ATRIDOX, a subgingival anti-infectivetreatment for periodontal disease.

Milestones will be tied only to ATRISORB GTR Barrier WithDoxycycline and ATRIDOX, Southard said.

"The great thing about this agreement," Southard said, "is that it willallow us to spend a great deal more time in the non-periodontalapplications of this unique drug delivery system, such as cancer,hormone delivery and protein peptide delivery."

Block Drug, of Jersey City, N.J., is an international marketer andmanufacturer of denture care products, dental products, proprietaryover-the-counter medicines and specialty household products.

Atrix has collaborations with Pharmacia & Upjohn Inc., ofKalamazoo, Mich., which in 1991 took a worldwide license on theuse of ATRIGEL technology for the delivery of vaccines to animals.

Atrix and Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis, are working together todevelop ATRIGEL formulations to deliver an anti-psychoticcompound under development by Lilly.

In 1995, Atrix signed a worldwide agreement to develop a product tobe sold by Gensia Laboratories Inc., of San Diego, for the treatmentof solid tumor cancers using the ATRIGEL system. Atrix is alsoworking with Heska Corp., of Fort Collins, Colo., to develop aproduct to treat periodontal disease in companion animals.

Third quarter figures show Atrix to have $27 million in cash. Atrix'sstock (NASDAQ:ATRX) closed Wednesday at $11.50, up $0.50. n

-- Frances Bishopp

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.