SAN FRANCISCO _ Although Immunex Corp. dismissed as toolow a takeover bid by majority stockholder American Home ProductsCorp. last year, the Seattle-based company's chairman and CEOEdward Fritzky said the two firms still are working closely.

"Our collaborations continue and have expanded," Fritzky said. Thelatter reference was to a new alliance worth up to $35 million fordevelopment of a second generation tumor necrosis factor-based drugfor inflammatory diseases.

American Home Products, of Madison, N.J., purchased worldwiderights to Immunex's tumor necrosis factor alpha converting enzyme(TACE), which would be used to block production of tumor necrosisfactor (TNF). Over-stimulation of TNF has been linked to disorderssuch as rheumatoid arthritis.

Immunex received less than $5 million up-front, but could realizeanother $30 million in research funding and milestone payments. Theagreement also would pay Immunex royalties on sales.

Fritzky announced the new collaboration with American HomeProducts at Hambrecht & Quist LLC's 14th Annual HealthcareFinancial Conference here Tuesday.

In November 1995, the pharmaceutical firm, which owns 55 percentof Immunex, made an unsolicited bid for the remaining shares for$263 million or $14.50 per share.

Immunex's board evaluated the deal, judged it too low and rejectedit. American Home Products has not made a counter offer, butapparently remains committed to Immunex. The TACE agreementinvolves development of a drug candidate still in the research stage.

A TACE inhibitor would be similar to Immunex's recombinant TNFreceptor in its goal of blocking TNF production. An advantage intargeting TACE is the possibility of developing a pill for oraladministration.

Following positive results from Phase II studies last year, Immunex isexpected to begin Phase III trials for its TNF receptor in the first halfof 1996.

Fritzky said his company also recently entered a researchcollaboration with Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco.

No financial terms are involved in the deal, which will evaluatecombining Immunex's Leukine, a white blood cell booster, withGenentech's thrombopoietin (TPO), a platelet stimulator, to treatcancer patients whose bone marrow is destroyed by chemotherapy.

The Leukine would replenish immune system cells while the TPO,which is in the early stages of development, would restore plateletsneeded for blood clotting.

The alliance could help both companies in their competition withAmgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif. Amgen's Neupogen, whichproduces white blood cells, controls a much larger share of the cancerchemotherapy market than Leukine. Neupogen is a granulocyte-colony stimulating factor while Leukine is a granulocytemacrophage-colony stimulating factor.

Amgen also is developing a version of thrombopoietin, which wouldcompete with Genentech's TPO.

Other News From The H & Q Conference

* Cephalon Inc., of West Chester, Pa., said it plans studies ofModafinil this year in additional indications outside of the lead area,narcolepsy, where it is in Phase III trials.

* Creative BioMolecules Inc., of Hopkinton, Mass., said its partner,Stryker Corp., of Kalamazoo, Mich., completed enrollment in apivotal trial of the morphogenic protein OP-1. It is being developedto treat tibial non-union fractures. Also, Stryker expanded the studyto non-union fractures in all long bones.

* Genzyme Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., said it had record revenuesfor the fourth quarter in a row, and that 1995 revenues increased 21percent over 1994 revenues, to $377 million from $311 million.

* Ribi ImmunoChem Research Inc., of Hamilton, Mont., said a meta-analysis of published data on patients with disseminated melanomashowed those treated with the company's Melacine melanomatheraccine had median survival of 11 months compared to 7.8 monthsfor other evaluable therapies. The analysis reviewed results from1,731 melanoma patients.

* The Liposome Co., of Princeton, N.J., said fourth quarter sales ofAbelcet (amphotericin B lipid complex) were about $4.4 million,significantly more than they were in the third quarter. n

-- Charles Craig

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