Vestar Inc. announced that it has initiated a limited program toprovide DaunoXome free of charge to AIDS patients withadvanced Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) who have failed at least oneother cytotoxic therapy.

DaunoXome is Vestar's liposomal formulation of the anti-cancerdrug daunorubicin.

The San Dimas, Calif., company (NASDAQ:VSTR) said it intendsto start shipping DaunoXome immediately to a limited numberof hospital centers; the program will be administered by PACT,a clinical research organization based in St. David's, Pa., thatwill coordinate patient and physician requests for the drug.

In clinical trials reported to date, more than 150 patients withadvanced KS have been treated with DaunoXome. More than 60percent of the evaluable patients had a partial response, thecompany said, and many others have had their diseasearrested.

"A Phase III protocol is currently under way to compareDaunoXome with standard combination chemotherapy," saidMichael Ross, Vestar's executive vice president of medical andregulatory affairs.

"This new investigational program provides access to patientswho are not eligible to participate in that Phase III program,while simultaneously advancing the clinical development andregulatory status of the product."

Separately, Vestar announced that it has acquired San Diego-based Vical Inc.'s entire portfolio of patented lipid prodrugtechnologies for all potential therapeutic applications. Thetechnology involves combining a lipid with a pharmaceuticalcompound to create a new molecular entity, which could bepatented as discrete from its parent drug.

This agreement significantly expands the rights Vical licensedto Vestar last May. "This strategic acquisition opens up verybroad product opportunities for Vestar in each of our researchprograms," said Roger Crossley, the company's president andchief executive officer.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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

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