NeXagen Inc. and Vestar Inc. completed the merger they announcedin October, and the combined company now is called NeXstarPharmaceuticals Inc.

Based in Boulder, Colo., NeXstar (NASDAQ:NXTR) had asuccessful debut on the market Wednesday, gaining $1.25, or 20percent, to close at $7.50. At least two analysts issued "buy" ratingson the stock.

NeXstar combines NeXagen's drug-discovery capabilities withVestar's development and marketing capabilities. (See BioWorldToday, Nov. 1, 1994, p. 1.)

The merger was achieved through the exchange of .88 shares ofNeXagen stock for each share of Vestar. The combined company has22.9 million shares outstanding, about $40 million in cash and isprojecting 1995 sales of $55 million. "As a result, we're projectingthat we'll be profitable in the 1997-'98 time frame, so we won't haveto access the financial markets," Joseph Alper, NeXstar's director,corporate communications, told BioWorld.

Vestar, of San Dimas, Calif., has focused on liposomal formulationsof currently available drugs. NeXagen's discovery capability is basedon systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment(SELEX) technology. The merger resulted in no layoffs, and most ofNeXstar's 315 employees will continue working where they werebefore the merger.

Alper said the liposomal and SELEX technologies "fit togetherremarkably well. It appears from some experiments we've done thatliposomes could be the ideal delivery system for oligonucleotidedrugs." _ Jim Shrine

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