Genta Inc. said Thursday it paid $5 million for an option with JagoHolding AG to expand their 1992 joint venture to develop oraltherapeutics based on Jago's Geomatrix controlled-release drugdelivery technology.

William Bliss, president of San Diego-based Genta, said hiscompany can exercise the option at any time. He declined to disclosewhen the option would expire.

The first Genta-Jago Technologies B.V. joint venture, he said,involved about 30 drugs while the new one would have rights toGeomatrix products using more than 150 pharmaceuticals.

In addition to paying Switzerland-based Jago affiliate, Jagotec AG,$5 million for the option, Genta will issue Jago 1.24 million Gentashares and pay another $5 million to Jagotec by January 1996 if thedeal is completed.

Bliss said the Genta-Jago joint venture is developing two types ofproducts with Geomatrix, one using duplicate forms of marketeddrugs and the other using specific therapeutics to improve theirdelivery.

The Geomatrix technology, Bliss said, is designed to allow patientsto take one or two daily formulations of drugs that normally wouldhave to be administered up to six times a day.

Gensia Inc., of San Diego, is developing Geomatrix with nifedipinefor hypertension and angina. Nifedipine is the generic form of NewYork-based Pfizer Inc.'s Procardia XL.

Bliss said Gensia's development of Geomatrix nifedipine representsthe most advanced product and "the only announced collaboration"for Genta-Jago.

Gensia said last week it experienced problems in its scale-upformulation of Geomatrix nifedipine and would have to delay filingan abbreviated new drug application with the FDA to market theproduct.

Bliss said the Genta-Jago joint venture is developing some productson its own and is negotiating additional collaborations with "majorpharmaceutical companies."

Genta's stock (NASDAQ:GNTA) closed Thursday at $4, up 19cents. n

-- Charles Craig

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