Shareholders upset by Biogen Inc.'s failed Phase III trials of Hirulogand its decision to drop development of the anti-coagulant have filedthree class action lawsuits accusing the Cambridge, Mass.-basedcompany of federal securities law violations.

Biogen's director of communications, Kathryn Bloom, said thecompany was served Thursday with the lawsuits, which were filed inU.S. District Court in Boston.

In a prepared statement issued late Thursday, Biogen's chairman andCEO, Jim Vincent, said, "The company regards these allegations astotally without merit. We will strongly defend against theseopportunistic lawsuits."

The shareholder lawsuits followed by three days Biogen's release ofdata showing that Hirulog did not show statistical significance whencompared with heparin in preventing complications associated withangioplasty. Hirulog is derived from hirudin, a natural anti-coagulating enzyme secreted by leeches. It was being developed as asubstitute for heparin.

Based on data from the Phase III trial, Biogen said it woulddiscontinue its Hirulog program, but search for a corporate partner tocontinue studies with the drug.

The company said that by dropping Hirulog it expected to moveback to profitability in the fourth quarter of this year. Third quarterfinancial results, announced Monday, showed a net loss of $26.4million, or 80 cents a share, compared with a net income of $11.3million, or 33 cents a share, for the same period in 1993.

The failed Hirulog trials sent Biogen's stock (NASDAQ:BGEN)down 18 percent Tuesday to close at $40 a share. At the close oftrading Thursday, the per share price was $40.62, down 37 cents. _Charles Craig

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