A dispute between The Immune Response Corp. (NASDAQ:IMNR)and Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Inc. over their respective rights in a jointventure has been settled by arbitration in Immune Response's favor.The dispute concerned clinical and regulatory rights to an HIVimmunotherapeutic being developed by Immunization Products Ltd., acompany created for this purpose as a joint venture between ImmuneResponse and Rhone-Poulenc.Immune Response claimed that the 1988 agreement was a 50-50partnership giving it the rights to clinical research and development ofthe drug, while Rhone-Poulenc retained marketing and distributionrights. Rhone-Poulenc contended that all clinical development,marketing, and manufacturing rights should be assigned toImmunization Products Ltd., according to Bob Pearson, Rhone-Poulenc's director of worldwide product communications.In February, in accordance with the dispute-resolution terms of theoriginal agreement, both companies agreed to arbitration by theAmerican Arbitration Association. On Tuesday, Immune Responseannounced that the arbitrator had upheld its contractual rights tocontrol all research and development, including, without limitation,clinical and regulatory activities pursued through final regulatoryapproval. Manufacturing rights were awarded to ImmunizationProducts and marketing rights to Rhone-Poulenc.Still Committed"We said we would abide by the arbitrator's decision and we arepleased the process was so quick," Pearson told BioWorld Today. "Thefact that we went to arbitration reflects the fact that we are committedto this product, although further testing needs to be done."Data on the results of a Phase II/III clinical trial of the HIV-1immunotherapeutic were presented last year. The trials demonstratedencouraging results in surrogate markers for HIV-infection. The drugappeared to slow the rate of increase of the virus in the patient's blood,slow the decline of CD4 cell counts, and impact other markers of HIVdisease such as the ability to stimulate antibody responses against HIV.Nevertheless, due possibly to high expectations, the results wereregarded as disappointing.

-- Philippa Maister

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