Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. could get up to $25million in an agreement signed Thursday expandingworldwide its marketing collaboration with Frankfurt,Germany-based Hoechst Marion Roussel for Copaxone,Teva's drug candidate aimed at treating multiplesclerosis.

The deal, in which Teva and Hoechst will sharemarketing rights in Europe and other countries outsideNorth America, is separate from a joint venture enteredinto earlier this year by the two companies to sellCopaxone in the U.S. and Canada.

The joint venture, Teva Marion Partners, was formed inMarch 1995 prior to Hoechst AG's more than $7 billionacquisition of Marion Merrell Dow, of Kansas City, Mo.,in May 1995. After the takeover Marion Merrell wasintegrated into Hoechst's pharmaceutical division,Hoechst Roussel Pharma, a collaboration betweenHoechst and Paris-based Roussel Uclaf S.A.

Richard Johnson, spokesman for Hoechst Marion Rousselin Kansas City, said Teva Marion Partners will continueas the marketing group for Copaxone in the U.S. andCanada. Financial terms of the joint venture were notdisclosed.

In the collaboration for sales of Copaxone elsewhere inthe world, Teva, of Jerusalem, will receive $10 millionwhen the final agreement is signed before the end of thisyear. Payment of the other $15 million to Teva is tied tomilestones, which were not detailed.

Johnson said in the marketing deal covering countriesoutside North America, Teva and Hoechst will sharerights to commercialization of the drug.

Copaxone is under review by the FDA and the U.K. Ifapproved in Great Britain, Teva then will seek marketingclearances in the other European Union countries.

Multiple sclerosis is caused by damage to the myelinsheath, which insulates nerve fibers that transmitelectrical impulses. Copaxone, or copolymer-1, is a fouramino acid peptide fragment derived from myelin basicprotein, which is the antigen that may trigger theautoimmune response responsible for the disease.

Copaxone is expected to compete with two other drugs,both of which are forms of beta interferon. Betaseron,developed by Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., andsold by its partner Berlin, Germany-based Schering AG,already is on the market. The other beta interferonproduct, Avonex, was developed by Biogen Inc., ofCambridge, Mass., and was recommended for approvalearlier this month by an FDA advisory panel.

Teva's stock (NASDAQ:TEVIY) closed Thursday at$44.75, up 50 cents. n

-- Charles Craig

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