Immunomedics Inc. filed a complaint Tuesday seeking more than $60million in damages from Pharmacia & Upjohn related to thepharmaceutical firm's termination of a collaboration onImmunomedics' colorectal cancer imaging agent, which receivedFDA approval last month.
Immunomedics, of Morris Plains, N.J., said the damages requestedinclude loss of milestone and development payments and loss ofrevenue associated with delays in preparing for market launch ofCEA-scan.
Pharmacia AB, of Stockholm, ended a four-year alliance withImmunomedics in July 1995, just prior to its merger with Upjohn, ofKalamazoo, Mich. In terminating the licensing and developmentagreement, Pharmacia returned to Immunomedics U.S. and Canadianmarketing rights.
Immunomedics' cancer diagnostic, approved July 1, 1996, by theFDA, is an in vivo imaging agent composed of a monoclonalantibody fragment labeled with technetium-99m for detection ofcarcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), which is expressed by colorectalcancer cells and those of many other tumors. The approval came fiveyears after a product license application was submitted.
In April 1996 Immunomedics found a new marketing partner,Mallinckrodt Group Inc., of St. Louis, which this fall will launch thediagnostic. The imaging agent is Immunomedics' first product on theU.S. market.
Immunomedics' breach of contract complaint against Pharmacia &Upjohn will be resolved in binding arbitration, which was a provisionof the original licensing agreement.
A Pharmacia & Upjohn spokeswoman said the company ended thecollaboration legally and will defend its position.
Immunomedics entered the alliance for development of the cancerdiagnostic in 1991 with Adria Laboratories in Dublin, Ohio, adivision of Erbamont Inc., of Stamford, Conn. Pharmacia inheritedthe agreement in its takeover of Erbamont that same year.
The arbitration panel will be made up of three lawyers. Eachcompany appoints an attorney and those two panel members select athird. The proceeding could take from six months to one year tocomplete.
Paul Herron, director of finance for Immunomedics, said thecompany resorted to the arbitration after trying unsuccessfully toreach a settlement with Pharmacia & Upjohn when it ended the CEA-scan collaboration.
He said Immunomedics received $12.5 million from Adria andPharmacia over four years for development of the cancer diagnostic.
Immunomedics stock (NASDAQ:IMMU) closed Tuesday at $7 down37 cents. Pharmacia & Upjohn (NYSE:PNU) ended the day up 37cents to $43.12. n
-- Charles Craig
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