Pharmos Corp. (NASDAQ/NMS:PARS) and Bausch and LombPharmaceuticals, Inc. have signed a letter of intent giving Bausch andLomb marketing and other rights for Lenoxin, a drug developed byPharmos that could grab a large share of the market for treatment ofeye inflammations and allergies.Alan Dozier, president of Bausch and Lomb Pharmaceuticals, toldBioWorld he expects the final agreement to be completed within thenext 60 days. It would give his company marketing, promotion,distribution, production, and development rights for Lenoxin(lotepredol estabonate) in the U.S. Rights in Canada, Mexico andEurope could follow. Bausch and Lomb Pharmaceuticals, based inTampa, Fla., is a subsidiary of Bausch and Lomb Inc. (NYSE:BOL) ofRochester, N.Y.Both Dozier and Stephan Streber, Pharmos' president, emphasized thatthey believe the deal would lead to a longterm relationship. However,neither would be specific about the amount of money involved. Andalthough neither would speculate on the drug's potential market share,they noted that in 1993, U.S. pharmacists filled nearly 8.5 millionprescriptions valued at $250 million for eye inflammation. Theyestimated the total worldwide market to be in excess of $700 millionlast year."It is a very important arrangement for Pharmos," Streber said. "Webelieve it could evolve into a strategically significant relationship forBausch and Lomb over a three-to-five year period," Dozier stated.Lenoxin is a patented, site-active, corticosteroid developed to treatopthalmic inflammations and allergies. The drug was designed to beactivated by esterase-like activity and to be active in the eye alone andnot systemically. Steroids are normally prescribed for eyeinflammations as a last resort because of their harmful side effects,especially increased intraocular pressure which can lead to glaucoma.However, Streber told BioWorld Lenoxin would be a very goodcandidate for use as a first line therapy because of its efficacy andminimal side effects based on Phase III trial results.In Phase III trials of the steroid as a treatment for giant papillaryconjunctivitis (GPC) associated with contact-lens wear and for pollen-induced allergic conjunctivitis. The GPC study enrolled 440 subjectswho continued to wear their lenses throughout the study. The pollenstudy involved some 300 subjects at peak pollen periods. In both cases,Pharmos reported significant improvements in condition compared tocurrent treatments with adverse side effects in only one percent of thesubjects. A Phase III trial of Lenoxin as a treatment for uveitis is beingcompleted.A new drug application for Lenoxin to the FDA is planned for thefourth quarter of 1994. However, Pharmos, which is based in NewYork, may have to consider changing its brand name because ofconcerns that the name Lenoxin could be confused with similar-sounding products. Streber said Pharmos will discuss this with theFDA, and if safety becomes an issue the company will change thename. n

-- Philippa Maister

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