Viragen Inc. has reached an agreement with Laidlaw HoldingsInc. under which Laidlaw will assist the company on a best-efforts basis for a $2 million to $4 million private placement.

Laidlaw also agreed to help the Hialeah, Fla., company gainentry to NASDAQ as soon as possible after the privateplacement. Viragen, which currently trades over the counter,was delisted from NASDAQ in March 1992 because it failed tomeet the $2 million equity requirements. "We're expecting thewhole transaction to be completed in 90 days," Dennis Healey,Viragen's chief executive officer, told BioWorld.

The company produces Alpha Leukoferon, a natural alphainterferon licensed by the state of Florida to treat stateresidents with multiple sclerosis and HIV/AIDS.

In mid-February Viragen received the final funding under twostock purchase agreements totaling $1.5 million with CytoferonCorp. Healey said those agreements allowed Viragen toreinitiate its programs while at the same time seekingadditional investments.

He said money raised from this week's private placement willbe used to continue research on Alpha Leukoferon and improveproduction capabilities. "The main focus is to develop moreefficient ways to produce it," he said.

Viragen has completed Phase II clinical trials of the drug totreat multiple sclerosis at the University of Miami School ofMedicine Multiple Sclerosis Center, and the company'spresident, Gerald Smith, said he expects Phase III trials tobegin in 60-90 days. Results would be used only in Floridaunder the state's Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Smith said the company has completed Phase I and II studiesfor the drug for other applications, for which it will seek FDAapproval. He said Phase II/III studies are expected to begin insix to nine months.

Alpha Leukoferon has been the primary product of Viragensince the company was established in 1980.

-- Jim Shrine

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