WASHINGTON -- Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. on Wednesday saidthat it expects to file an application to market taxol forrefractory ovarian cancer by midyear.

The announcement came at a joint hearing of the HouseMerchant Marine, Agriculture and Interior committees on thePacific Yew Act of 1991. The bill provides for management offederal lands containing the Pacific yew tree to ensuresufficient supply of taxol, which currently can only be derivedfrom the tree's bark.

Zola Horowitz, vice president of business development andplanning at Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Group,testified that the company expects within three years to usealternative sources for the anti-cancer agent. Bristol-Myershopes to totally replace collections from the wild within fiveyears, she said.

Bristol-Myers (NYSE:BMY) is collaborating with Phyton CatalyticInc. and Hauser Chemical Research on development of cellculture-based alternatives to the wild yew. Privately heldPhyton has an exclusive license to a patent held by the USDAon the production of taxol in tissue culture.

Phyton of Ithaca, N.Y., expects to have an alternative sourceavailable in commercial quantities within three to five years,according to Bobby Bringi, vice president of technical affairsand a co-founder of the company.

Escagenetics Corp. is also developing taxol derived from celland tissue culture, and filed for patent protection late last year.Escagenetics (AMEX:ESN) expects to produce significantquantities of taxol from cell culture by 1993, according toRaymond Moshy, president and chief executive officer. The SanCarlos, Calif., company received an $800,000 award in Octoberfrom the National Cancer Institute to investigate the feasibilityof scale-up and economic production of taxol by plant cellculture. Escagenetics stock closed at $11.75, down 13 cents.--Holly Ganz

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