Chiron Corp.'s ophthalmic business, Chiron Vision, said Wednesdayit filed a new drug application to market Vitrasert, an intraocularimplant that delivers ganciclovir to the eye for treatment ofcytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis.

Also Wednesday, Chiron said it is collaborating with Hoffmann-LaRoche Inc., of Nutley, N.J., to market and co-promote Vitrasert.Chiron developed the Vitrasert product and Roche marketsganciclovir. No money initially was exchanged in the collaboration,according to Larry Kurtz, Chiron's vice president of corporatecommunications.

Chiron Vision will develop, manufacture and sell Vitrasert. Thecompanies will co-promote the product, which was shown to delaythe time to progression of CMV retinitis vs. intravenous ganciclovir,oral ganciclovir or intravenous foscarnet. Terms of the revenue splitwere not disclosed.

Kurtz said Chiron sales people will target ophthalmic surgeons, whoalready are their customers. Roche's sales force will focus mostly onprimary care and infectious disease physicians, with whom Rochealready has contact because of ganciclovir, an approved antiviralagent.

Vitrasert contains ganciclovir embedded in a polymer-based systemthat releases drug into the eye for up to eight months. The implant,placed into the posterior part of the eye via an incision, can beremoved and replaced when the drug runs out. _ Jim Shrine

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