Gensia Inc. has entered into a potential $64.5 million collaborationwith Boehringer Mannheim Pharmaceuticals Corp. to develop acardiovascular drug based on the former's Geomatrix technology.Under the agreement, Boehringer Mannheim, of Gaithersburg, Md.,will initially pay San Diego-based Gensia $10 million in cash andmake a $10 million equity investment to develop a treatment forhypertension and angina based on Geometrix, a controlled drugdelivery technology, and nifedipine, the generic form of New York-based Pfizer Inc.'s Procardia XL.Randy Hoggle, Boehringer's vice president of business operations,said the additional $44.5 million in payments to Gensia will bebased on achieving three milestones. The first involves showingbioequivalence of the cardiovascular treatment in clinical trials withProcardia XL. The other two are gaining an abbreviated new drugapplication approval from the FDA and commercializing theproduct.Gregory Brown, of Vector Securities Inc., in Deerfield, Ill., said thedeal shows that Gensia is a "broad-based" biotechnology firm withmore in its portfolio than Protara, the company's flagship product.Brown said the agreement with Boehringer Mannheim is the jab ina "one-two punch" combination being delivered by Gensia to itsdetractors. The crushing blow, he said, will come within the nextfour weeks with the release of what Brown expects will be positivePhase III trial results of Protara in the treatment of myocardialinfarction during heart surgery.Gensia stopped the Protara trials in August on the recommendationof an independent safety and monitoring panel. Since then, analystshave speculated on whether the data from the blinded trial showsthe drug did or did not work. Unlike Brown, some analysts havepredicted the results will be negative.Hoggle said Boehringer Mannheim Pharmaceuticals, a division ofLondon-based Corange Ltd., may enter additional financialagreements with Gensia for other Geomatrix-based treatmentsinvolving verapamil and metoprolol if the Geomatrix nifedipine issuccessful.The collaboration gives Gensia and Boehringer-Mannheim co-promotion rights to Geomatrix nifedipine and other products inNorth America and most of Europe. The two companies also willsplit operating profits.Gensia is developing the Geomatrix technology in association withGenta-Jago, which is a joint venture between San Diego-basedGenta Inc. and Switzerland-based Jagotech AG.Elizabeth Foster, Gensia's director of corporate communications,said the companies expected to file for the abbreviated new drugapplication in the second half of 1995. n
-- Charles Craig
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