SAN FRANCISCO _ Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc. officials had ahard time holding back the release of data Tuesday from their PhaseI trial of their HIV protease inhibitor. In deference to investigators,however, they did.

But the La Jolla, Calif. company's president and CEO, RichardJohnson, let those at the Hambrecht & Quist Inc. 13th Annual LifeSciences Conference know that the results were good.

The compound, AG1343, "had an immaculate safety profile," hesaid. "It's the best pharmacokinetic profile for an HIV proteaseinhibitor. This makes it one of the strongest contenders in the field."

Barry Quart, the company's vice president of regulatory affairs, toldBioWorld the data will be presented Jan. 30 and 31 at the AmericanSociety of Microbiology meeting in Washington.

"It met or exceeded a profile for what we consider an ideal proteaseinhibitor," Quart said, adding that a small Phase II study shouldbegin in late February.

That study, looking at viral load and other immunologic markers,should take about two months, he said. Demonstration of satisfactoryantiviral activity in that study would result in a $24 million milestonepayment from collaborator Japan Tobacco Inc., of Tokyo. Agouronalready has received $6 million from the deal. Agouron has rights toAG1343 in North America, Japan Tobacco has rights in Japan andAsia, and the companies are sharing the rest of the world.

In Other Conference News

* The Liposome Co., of Princeton, N.J., said it expects to receive afirst marketing approval for amphotericin B lipid complex (ABLC)in at least one European country within the next six weeks. EdwardSilverman, vice president and chief operating officer, said Liposomehas filed marketing applications in 17 countries and is quicklybuilding a sales staff in preparation for the anticipated approvals.ABLC, for systemic fungal infections, has a market potential of morethan $500 million by its fifth year. ABLC is in pivotal Phase III trialsin the U.S. and Liposome plans to file a new drug application in theU.S. this year.

* Biogen Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., will finish 1994 "slightly in thered" as a result of the setback when its anti-coagulant Hirulogproduced disappointing Phase III results. James Vincent, chairmanand CEO also said Tuesday that recent speculation of a takeover isfalse and that Biogen plans to remain independent. He added,however, that his company will soon jump on the gene therapybandwagon and currently is negotiating a research agreement with anas-yet unidentified company.

* Millenium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said thatMark Levin was appointed as CEO. He had been acting in thatcapacity since the genomics company's inception in January 1993. n

-- Jim Shrine

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