Stung by a front-page story in the Wall Street Journal on itshandling of an experimental drug, Alzene to treat Alzheimer's,Deprenyl Research Ltd. of Toronto is taking steps to undo thedamage.
For one thing, Deprenyl will enforce its guidelines that staff notmake offhand remarks to the media about drugs indevelopment, Martin Barkin, Derprenyl's president, saidThursday.
For another, Barkin issued a press release on Thursday statingthat Deprenyl "sees no significant change and does notanticipate any changes in the continuing positive trends of itsoperation."
Despite those efforts, Deprenyl's stock (NASDAQ:DEPLF)continued on a three-day slide following the Journal article onTuesday. The stock declined Thursday 25 cents a share to closeat $6.38, down from $8 at the start of the week.
Barkin has taken up the issue with the source of many of thecomments made in the Journal article. That's Barkin's boss,Morton Shulman, Deprenyl's founder and co-chairman, andalso, the Journal noted, the former coroner of Toronto, an editorof an investment newsletter and author of a best-seller, "Howto Make a Million Dollars."
"Morty is an enthusiastic supporter of the company," Barkinsaid. Still, sometimes "he forgets he's not talking to a stockunderwriter, but a reporter." After the recent recent article (aToronto paper reported a story on Wednesday), Barkin isconfident that his boss understands. "He didn't get to where heis without a lot of insight."
The Journal reported that Deprenyl was selling Alzene throughthe mail under a U.S. regulation allowing patients to importunapproved drugs for life-threatening illnesses if they have adoctor's prescription. The drug is now in clinical trials inCanada and in a small preliminary trial involving 20 patients inthe U.S., where Ivax Corp. of Miami has licensed rights.
Barkin said Deprenyl sold Alzene in the U.S., but deniedmarketing, the drug, taking issue with the story's reference to apublicity campaign in support of Alzene. "We don't have anykind of promotional campaign on Alzene," Barkin said. What isreleased to doctors who inquire about the drug "is typewritten,just straight factual text." Patients are not given theinformation and no one is solicited. However, information onthe company's products is provided to investors.
Sales of the drug shipped to individuals in the U.S. is a moneyloser for Deprenyl, and nothing near the $12,000 per day citedin the article. Alzene sales to individuals in both countries andIsrael will be well under $600,000 this year, he said.
-- Ray Potter Senior Editor
(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.