Matrix Pharmaceutical Inc. announced Wednesday that it hasformed a strategic alliance potentially worth $22 million withthe British company Medeva plc (ASE:MDV) to commercializeMatrix's therapeutic implant dermatology products in the U.S.and Europe.

Medeva, the largest manufacturer and supplier of humanvaccines in the United Kingdom, will provide $12 million toMatrix of Menlo Park, Calif., in development and milestonepayments, as well as invest $10 million in new Matrix commonstock (NASDAQ:MATX) at $15 per share. This gives Medeva "alittle over 6 percent of the company," said Craig McMullen,Matrix's president and chief executive officer. Medeva willpurchase this stock over the first year of the collaboration,after which it will enter into a standstill agreement regardingthe purchase of additional shares. "Medeva is restricted fromacquiring more than 10 percent of the company," McMullenexplained.

Matrix is developing its therapeutic implant product MPI 5003as a means of treating genital warts and skin cancers. Theimplant consists of a collagen matrix that delivers thechemotherapeutic drug 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) via sustainedrelease directly to the local target site. Matrix already has thiscompound in human clinical trials for both indications. In fact,Phase II data on MPI 5003 for treating genital warts will bepresented today at the Clinical Dermatology 2000 Meeting, inVienna, Austria, McMullen said. And the company intends tobegin Phase III studies in genital warts later this month.

In Europe, Medeva will clinically develop and market Matrix'sMPI 5003 implant for genital warts and skin cancer. This latterindication builds on Medeva's recent acquisition of the Germancompany Ribosepharm, in the oncology field. Matrix willcomplete the clinical development of MPI 5003 in the U.S. Bothcompanies will co-market the product in the U.S. Matrix hasretained the manufacturing rights for both the U.S. and Europe.

Although the agreement between Matrix and Medevaspecifically covers MPI 5003, it allows some leeway for thepartners to develop additional products. Any further co-development efforts, however, would be to "expand theapplications in dermatology," McMullen told BioWorld.

Matrix is also developing products for the oncology market,including its MPI 5001 for prostate cancer, which it intends todevelop and market itself directly in the U.S. and Europe,McMullen told BioWorld.

With the stock purchase by Medeva, Matrix has slightly morethan 10.5 million shares outstanding. As of the first quarter of1993, the company also had about $40 million cash on hand,McMullen told BioWorld.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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