Creative BioMolecules Inc., continuing efforts to restructure itsbusiness, has signed a three-year, $18 million contract to produceseveral of Biogen Inc.'s drug candidates for clinical trials.Under the agreement, Cambridge, Mass.-based Biogen will makeannual payments of about $6 million to Creative BioMolecules, ofHopkinton, Mass., and spend several million more dollars toexpand the latter's Lebanon, N.H., manufacturing plant.Biogen's communications director, Kathryn Bloom, would notidentify the drug candidates to be produced under the contract.Stephanie Marrus, Creative BioMolecules' vice president ofcorporate development, said the agreement is the company's firstmajor manufacturing contract and is another in what is expected tobe a series of steps aimed at reducing expenses. The first move wasmade last month when the company cut its staff by 20 percent."These moves are near-term moves reflecting the fact that our cashposition is not what it should be," Marrus said. "The managementis extremely focused on cash and maintaining the company'sviability."In a prepared statement, Creative BioMolecules' CEO CharlesCohen said the agreement with Biogen will further reduce thecompany's burn rate and enable it to break even in the operation ofits manufacturing facility.The September staff reductions saved the company about $3million a year, Marrus said. Coupled with Biogen's annualpayments, Creative BioMolecules will be able to offset its burn rateby about $9 million a year, she added.For the quarter that ended June 30, Creative BioMolecules had$9.6 million in cash and investments, revenues of $1.2 million,expenses of $6 million and a net loss of $4.88 million.In addition to the contract with Biogen, Creative BioMolecules, inApril, signed an $8.6 million extension of its research and supplycollaboration with Stryker Corp., of Kalamazoo, Mich. The twocompanies are developing Creative BioMolecule's osteogenicprotein, OP-1, for bone and joint reconstruction.Creative BioMolecules also is developing OP-1 for otherindications, including regeneration of tooth dentin.At the close of trading Friday, Creative BioMolecules(NASDAQ:CBMI) was listed at $3.38 cents, up 38 cents. Biogen(NASDAQ:BGEN) closed at $54.50, up 75 cents. n

Vertex Begins Joint Program With BASF SubsidiaryVertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. has launched a collaboration with anItalian subsidiary of Germany-based BASF AG for development ofdrugs to treat sickle cell anemia and beta thalassemia.Financial details of the agreement between Vertex, of Cambridge,Mass., and Ravizza Framaceutici S.p.A., of Milan, were notdisclosed.Lynne Brum, Vertex's director of corporate communications, saidthe agreement involves two parts. Both Vertex and Ravizza aredeveloping similar compounds for treatment of hemoglobindisorders and the initial stage of the collaboration will involvesharing technology. The second part will focus on jointdevelopment of compounds targeting beta thalassemia and sicklecell anemia.The agreement gives Ravizza and Vertex rights to co-manufactureand co-market drugs in Italy and other European countries as wellas certain North African nations. Ravizza will be responsible forseeking regulatory approval in those countries.Vertex launched a Phase II clinical trial of its compound, VX-105,for sickle cell anemia in the U.S. and Canada in July. The companyalso has a Phase II trial of the drug under way for beta thalassemiaand has completed patient accrual in a Phase I trial for VX-366,which is an orally administered form of VX-105. _ Charles Craig

-- Charles Craig

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