CoCensys Inc. has signed another deal with a bigpharmaceutical company that will deliver a sales forceand physician contacts to facilitate the market entry oftwo new classes of drugs for the treatment of centralnervous system (CNS) disorders.

CoCensys, located in Irvine, Calif., said on Tuesday thatit had struck a strategic collaboration with Warner-Lambert Co.'s Parke-Davis division. While CoCensysPresident Daniel Korpolinski declined to state the amountof resources that Parke-Davis will contribute to thedevelopment and marketing of the new CNS drugs, hesaid the deal's price tag "was similar to the Ciba deal."

He was referring to CoCensys's deal with Ciba-GeigyLtd., of Basel, Switzerland, signed in May 1994. (SeeBioWorld Today, May 18, 1994, p. 1.) That deal wasestimated to be worth about $35 million in revenues toCoCensys and an additional $64 million in reducedresearch and development expenses.

CoCensys's newest collaboration represents a significantdeparture from partnerships created by other biotechfirms. Both deals have brought CoCensys real assets notjust royalties, explained Alex Zisson, analyst forHambrecht & Quist, of New York. "Like the Ciba deal,CoCensys obtained access to a chunk of Parke-Davis'ssales force," said Zisson.

Under the second deal with Parke-Davis, also announcedon Tuesday, CoCensys will co-promote Parke-Davis'sCNS drug, Cognex, to U.S. neurologists for the treatmentof Alzheimer's disease. "Cognex is the only drugcurrently approved for treatment of Alzheimer's. But ithas limited efficacy and its side effects require frequentblood level monitoring, said Zisson. "However, Cognexis such a high profile drug that the CoCensys detail forcewill be able to get into every physician's office to selltheir new CNS drugs when they come on the market," hetold BioWorld Today.

CoCensys was granted exclusive rights to co-promoteCognex to neurologists but Parke-Davis retained rights tomarket the drug to internists and other physicians whotreat Alzheimer's patients and to market the drugoverseas.

Korpolinski said the recent agreements with Parke-Davisfulfill the company's strategic objective of "keeping asteady stream of products in the pipeline to market. Inaddition, the collaboration steps up our researchcapabilities and offers the company a financial safetynet."

Korpolinski added that he is talking to several otherstrategic partners and expects to sign additionalagreements. "I'm talking to several other companiesabout partnering on the development of epilans, a newclass of drugs that that act as natural sedatives without theside effects of current drugs," he said.

Development of the next generation of CNS drugs, whichare all in the preclinical stages except for one in Phase I,only bodes well for the future of CoCensys. Zisson seesthe company as a high-growth firm because "it isdeveloping new CNS drugs that involve a newmechanism of action, much like Valium and Zanax."

Korpolinski said he negotiated hard to ensure thatCoCensys and Parke-Davis will share equally in thepromotion rights for all drugs subject to the agreementthat are sold in the U.S. and Japan. "We split 50/50 on theJapanese market with the option that we may sell therights back to Parke-Davis," said Korpolinski. Inaddition, Parke-Davis will develop, register and marketany drugs that are derived from the collaborationworldwide and pay a royalty to CoCensys. Parke-Daviswill support 70 percent of drug development costs andCoCensys 30 percent, proportional to their respectivemarketing rights.

The companies said that Parke-Davis also would make anequity investment in CoCensys as well as pay certainmilestone payments, but these terms were not madepublic. These payments will support development of N-Methyl-D-Aspartate (NMDA) receptor subtypes, theneuronal receptors for glutamate, the most importantexcitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. The NMDAreceptors are being tested for several indications but theinitial target will be a drug to treat stroke and headtrauma. Korpolinski said the indications may be muchbroader as the drug's ability to treat psychiatric disordersis explored.

On the same day, CoCensys announced that it wasamending its 1994 U.S. marketing agreement with Ciba."The decision was mutual," said Korpolinski. "Becausetwo of the three drugs subject to the agreement weregoing off patent, both companies decided to truncate theagreement earlier than first planned so we could developother partners. After all, why should we invest in a salesforce when we would not even cover our costs."

Both Anafranil and Tofranil are about to face increasingcompetition from generic drugs. However, the co-development of Acea 1021 for the treatment of stroke andhead trauma is not affected by the amended agreement. n

-- Michele L. Robinson Washington Editor

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