Idec Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced Thursday that it is haltingdevelopment of its Specifid product candidate to treat B-celllymphomas and instead will focus its resources on otherproducts, particularly its pan-B antibodies for targetedlymphoma therapies.

The decision to drop Specifid, for which Idec had filed a PhaseIII protocol in May, was based on the company's analysis of thechallenges and additional investment necessary to proceedwith its development vs. its market potential, said WilliamRastetter, Idec's president and chief executive officer.

In addition, he said, the company was concerned that thesingle-antibody pan-B product could "cannibalize" the marketfor Specifid.

The Specifid panel of 15 antibodies targets cell-surfacemarkers present only on the malignant cells of the tumors ofapproximately 25 percent of patients with non-Hodgkin's B-celllymphoma, Rastetter said. The company's single-antibody pan-B agents, on the other hand, target the CD20 cell-surfacemarker present in greater than 90 percent of lymphomas,thereby significantly increasing the number of potentiallytreatable patients.

The company's pace of discovery outpaced productdevelopment, Rastetter told BioWorld.

Idec will record a $3 million charge against operations in thesecond quarter to phase out the Specifid program.

Idec also announced Thursday that based on encouraging datafrom a 15-patient, single-dose safety study at StanfordUniversity Medical Center, it is preparing to begin a Phase I/IImultiple-dose safety and efficacy study for the treatment ofrelapsed B-cell lymphoma. In addition, Idec's radiolabeled,therapeutic pan-B antibody and its companion, radiolabeledpan-B imaging agent, have recently begun human clinicaltesting at Stanford.

Idec said it is preparing to extend the testing of all of the pan-Bproduct candidates to three San Diego medical centers.

Idec of San Diego reported a $12.7 million loss in 1992compared with $5.8 million in 1991. The company had $43.6million in cash and equivalents at the end of last year.

Idec's stock (NASDAQ:IDPH) closed unchanged on Thursday at$4.25 a share.

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