Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced Wednesday that it hasformed a 50-50 joint venture with Allergan Inc. to develop andcommercialize pharmaceutical products based on retinoidtechnology. All research, development and commercializationcosts, as well as any earnings from retinoid products resultingfrom the venture will be split equally.

Initially, both companies will provide $15 million to fund theventure. Allergan (NYSE:AGN) of Irvine, Calif., will also make a$20 million equity investment in Ligand.

David Robinson, Ligand's president and chief executive officer,said the goal of the joint venture will be to create retinoiddrugs that are equally or more effective than current retinoiddrugs, but without the side effects. The side effects includelipid disturbances and skin irritation, he said. Applications forthe drugs will include the treatment of skin diseases, eyediseases, inflammatory diseases and cardiovascular diseases.Robinson said treatment of gynecological diseases is a"possibility."

Ligand, a privately held company in San Diego, filed for aninitial public offering in April, but has yet to enter the publicmarket. "We haven't set a date yet (for entering), but we stillintend to move ahead with our offering," Robinson said.

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