SciClone Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Mateo, Calif., has releaseddata on 18 of 158 patients in its Phase III trial of Zadaxin thymosinAlpha 1 for chronic hepatitis B.However, analysts said Thursday, the results are too preliminary todraw conclusions. Still, the company's stock (NASDAQ:SCLN),which was unchanged Wednesday, dropped $1.50 (17 percent)Thursday, closing at $7.25 per share.As of early September, SciClone had data on 18 patients whocompleted the first 12 months of the 18-month protocol. Sixpatients completed 12 months of therapy, six completed six monthsof therapy followed by six months of observation, and six, thecontrol group, were untreated and observed for 12 months.Five of the six patients in each treated group were negative forhepatitis B virus DNA, while two of the controls were negative. At12 months, the loss of hepatitis B e-antigen was observed in twopatients in the six-month treatment group, and one patient each inthe control and 12-month treatment groups. No indications of drugtoxicity or adverse experiences were observed, the company said.SciClone already has approval for Zadaxin in Singapore, and hasapplications pending in Hong Kong, the People's Republic ofChina and Mexico. The company is counting on strong data fromthe Taiwan trial to back what it saw in previous trials, and tocounter negative publicity resulting from a U.S. trial of the productrun by Alpha 1 Biomedicals Inc., which showed similar clearancein drug and control groups of hepatitis B virus DNA. SciClone haslicensed the drug from Alpha 1 Biomedicals. _ Jim Shrine
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