TheraTech Inc. announced Thursday that it is establishing awholly owned Japanese subsidiary, TheraTech Japan, whichwill be responsible for the company's overall operations inJapan and the Pacific Rim.

The company said TheraTech Japan, also called NihonTheraTech Kabushiki Kaisha, initially will seek Japanesepartners to develop and market several TheraTech products,including a testosterone transdermal delivery system for thetreatment of male hypogonadism, and an estradiol transdermaldelivery system and an estradiol/progestin combinationtransdermal system, both for female hormone replacementtherapy. The company said it will also seek partners to developproducts using its buccal drug delivery technology.

TheraTech already has agreements with two Japanesecompanies. It is developing transdermal patches for Nichiiko'sEptazocine, which is marketed in Japan for treatment of painassociated with cancer, and for an asthma drug marketed byHisamitsu Pharmaceutical Co. Inc.

TheraTech Japan's president and chief executive officer isIchiro Nakatomi, who will retain his title as vice president ofbusiness development for the Pacific Rim and Far East.Nakatomi held several senior management positions withHisamitsu before joining TheraTech in 1991.

TheraTech (NASDAQ:THRT) of Salt Lake City developscontrolled-release, drug delivery products, primarily forproprietary drugs already on the market. Its initial focus hasbeen on transdermal drug delivery; six products are either inclinical trials or about to enter clinicals. The company is alsodeveloping oral transmucosal (or buccal) delivery products andhas started early work with controlled-release oral delivery,colon targeted delivery and long-acting injectable delivery.

Steve Mayer, TheraTech's vice president and chief financialofficer, said both calcitonin and heparin in an oral transmucosalsystem may go into clinicals in 1994.

In February, TheraTech filed its first new drug application, fora nitroglycerine transdermal patch. The company has anundisclosed marketing partner in Europe.

Other transdermal products either in clinicals or about to enterclinicals include testosterone, to be marketed by SmithKline inthe U.S. and Canada; a Syntex pain compound that analystshave identified as Toradol (ketorolac); an unidentified femalehormone replacement product of Solvay Pharmaceuticals;estradiol; and an estradiol/progestin combination. The companyis seeking a marketing partner for the latter two products.Estradiol is currently marketed in Korea by DahaPharmaceuticals.

Mayer said that what distinguishes TheraTech in the crowdedfield of transdermal delivery companies is its two differenttransdermal systems, a liquid reservoir system and a matrixpatch, which when combined with the company's technology toenhance drug permeation through the skin enable "a muchwider range of drugs" to be delivered transdermally.

Greg Brown, an analyst with Vector Securities International,Inc. one of the underwriters of TheraTech's public offering,commented that TheraTech has "tended to avoid thetreacherous waters" of the transdermal market by selecting"intriguing targets" with strong corporate partners. Bycomparison, he said the company's competitors initially focusedon nicotine.

TheraTech's stock closed at $13.75 a share on Thursday, off 25cents.

-- Brenda Sandburg News Editor

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