In a continuing battle among co-marketing partners, Germany'sBehringwerke A.G. and its U.S. affiliate said Tuesday they havesued Immunex Corp. in an effort to keep selling a granulocytecolony macrophage stimulating factor (GM-CSF) in the UnitedStates.

Immunex in April sued Behringwerke and its U.S. affiliate,Hoechst-Roussel Pharmaceutical Inc., alleging that the twocompanies shipped at least 10,000 vials of Hoechst's GM-CSF,trade named Prokine, as free samples to Immunex's hospitalcustomers. Seattle-based Immunex charged Behringwerke andHoechst-Roussel with breach of contract, business interferenceand unfair competition in the marketing of GM-CSF. Immunex'sGM-CSF is trade named Leukine.

Behringwerke and Hoechst-Roussel responded with the lawsuitannounced Tuesday, which seeks an injunction that would barImmunex from terminating or breaching a contract that allowsHoechst to market GM-CSF in the United States.

"We regret that the actions initiated by Immunex have led tothis turn of events," said a Behringwerke representative. "Butwe have spent substantial amounts developing this productand are resolute in our determination to protect our contractualrights."

In their suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District ofDelaware, Behringwerke and Hoechst-Roussel allege thatImmunex's conduct constitutes a violation of federal antitrustlaws and that, unless enjoined, it will eliminate competition inthe sale of the drug, resulting in increased prices to cancerpatients and others.

In its suit filed in Superior Court of the State of Washington forKing County, Immunex also alleged that Hoechst failed tomarket GM-CSF as required by contract and failed to payroyalties. Immunex in April blamed the shipment of freesamples for an unexpected drop in its own sales and a resultingfirst-quarter loss. It asked the court to rescind Behringwerke'slicense to market Immunex's receptor products in Europe andJapan, which was provided under the 1989 contract by whichImmunex regained rights to co-market GM-CSF in the UnitedStates.

Immunex (NASDAQ:IMNX) shares on Tuesday declined 50 centsto close at $30.25.

GM-CSF stimulates the production of white blood cells in cancerpatients who have undergone bone marrow transplants.

-- Ray Potter Senior News Editor

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