Neurex Corp. and the neurological division of Medtronic Inc.announced Tuesday a collaborative agreement worth up to $16 million.They will cooperate in the development and commercialization of theneuron-specific calcium channel-blocking compound SNX-111, for thetreatment of various pain syndromes.Neurex, of Menlo Park, Calif., already has received $2 million inequity, selling Medtronic 360,000 shares of newly issued stock at $5.56per share, Paul Goddard, chairman and chief executive officer ofNeurex, told BioWorld. Neurex's stock (NASDAQ:NXCO) closedTuesday unchanged at $4 per share.The balance of the agreement, or $14 million, would be in undisclosedequity and payments against certain clinical and developmentalmilestones.The development will focus on the treatment of chronic neuropathicand malignant pain by direct administration into the spinal space by theMedtronic SynchroMed implantable, programmable drugadministration system.Medtronic, a medical devices company headquartered in Minneapolis,will receive worldwide rights to distribute and commercialize SNX-111for chronic spinal administration. The rights are exclusive in the UnitedStates. Neurex will pursue development of the product for acute andlocal use in analgesic indications.The deal marks the third collaboration Neurex has for its SNX-111compound and technology.In 1991, Ono Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., of Osaka, Japan, gave Neurex$3 million over three years in a pact that ends in June. Goddard saidextension negotiations are ongoing. In June 1993 Warner-Lambert Co.agreed to purchase $7 million worth of Neurex stock, and will purchaseanother $3 million upon Neurex's next offering, Goddard said.Ono has development and marketing rights for SNX-111, in Japan andEast Asia, in ischemic indications to prevent brain damage. Warner-Lambert has rights for the same indication in the rest of the world,while Neurex retained co-promotional rights in the United States andEurope.Goddard said his company approached its new collaborator because ofMedtronic's position as "the world's leader in implantable pumps. Sothey know this market very well."We believe the number of patients who will receive pain treatment bythis route of administration in the United States alone is in excess of100,000 annually," Goddard said. "We hope to file an IND(investigational new drug application) for SNX-111 for the treatmentof pain syndromes and commence clinical trials later this year."

-- Jim Shrine

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