Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Inc. has agreed to pay BiomatrixInc. more than $5 million for the right to market thelatter's osteoarthritis treatment, Synvisc, in Canada.

Under terms of the pact, Biomatrix, of Ridgefield, N.J.,will receive $3.5 million as a license fee and another $2million based on achievement of an undisclosed dollaramount of sales. In addition, Biomatrix will co-marketSynvisc in Canada and will receive manufacturing feesfor supplying Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, of Collegeville, Pa.,with the product.

Synvisc is a modified version of naturally occurringhyaluronan, which acts as a lubricant and shock absorberin human tissues. The substance is injected into kneejoints to supplement synovial fluid, whose protectiveproperties are reduced by osteoarthritis.

Biomatrix CEO and Chief Scientific Officer Endre Balazssaid Synvisc has been on the market in Canada since1993 and sales have risen at an average rate of 30 percentper quarter during the past year.

The product was launched in Sweden in June by anothermarketing partner, Switzerland-based Roche HoldingsLtd. Biomatrix also has a distribution agreement in Italywith Recordati Industria Chimica e Farmaceutica S.p.A.

Biomatrix's premarket approval application for Synviscin the U.S. was filed with the FDA in August 1994 andstill is under review.

Biomatrix's stock (NASDAQ:BIOX) closed Monday at$8, up 25 cents. _ Charles Craig

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