Neurex Corp. has launched a collaboration on neurological drugswith Warner-Lambert Co. that could bring $10 million in equityfinancing to the young company.

The two companies will share development costs of productsfor neurological diseases, focusing on compounds that open orshut neuron-specific calcium channels. These channels play akey role in communication between nerve cells, andinappropriate communication can lead to disease or disorders.

Neurex filed for an initial public offering in February 1992,then amended the filing in December to sell 3 million shares ofclass A common stock at $10-$12 per share.

The 7-year-old Menlo Park, Calif., company is "constantlyreviewing the market," but has not set a date to begin theoffering, said Paul Goddard, chief executive officer.

Warner-Lambert has agreed to purchase $7 million of shares inthe pending initial public offering, and will purchase another$3 million in shares in connection with Neurex's next publicoffering.

The ability to have some of the initial public offering sold atthe outset was attractive to Neurex, Goddard said.

Warner-Lambert is the company's second corporate partner. In1991, Neurex announced a pact with Ono Pharmaceutical Co.Ltd. that was intended to provide up to $5 million over threeyears, according to the company's prospectus.

The Ono collaboration combines Neurex's peptide-based nervecell calcium channel blockers with Ono's library of somemolecules. The companies planned to divide marketing rightsfor peptide-based compounds, but share marketing rightsoutside Japan and East Asia for all other compounds. Ono wouldhave full marketing rights in Japan and East Asia, and anoption to renew the agreement for another three years.

Warner-Lambert spokeswoman Sandy Horner said alliancessuch as this one with Neurex have become a key strategy of thepharmaceutical company, as evidenced by the R&D agreementwith Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals Inc., announced in April.

Horner added that Warner-Lambert is licensing Neurex'sleading compound, SNX-111, a neuron-specific calcium channelblocker that is currently in Phase I studies for prevention ofbrain damage following heart attack.

Neurex will share profits from sales of compounds co-promotedin the U.S., the United Kingdom and another European countrythat will be chosen after reimbursement changes in the regionbecome more clear, Goddard said. Neurex also will be entitledto royalties on sales of compounds developed undercollaboration and marketed solely by Warner-Lambert.

-- Nancy Garcia Associate Editor

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