WASHINGTON -- Genzyme Corp. said Sen. Howard Metzenbaum,D-Ohio, used inaccurate information in recent Senate hearingsto portray as excessive the company's orphan drug sales.

At the Jan. 21 hearing of the Judiciary subcommittee onantitrust, monopolies and business rights, Metzenbaum saidGenzyme and other companies charged "unbelievable" pricesfor their orphan drugs. He said Genzyme had Ceredaserevenues of $120 million on an R&D investment of $54 million.

According to a Jan. 23 letter to Metzenbaum from companyPresident and CEO Henri Termeer, Ceredase revenues were, infact, $38 million, $2 million of which came under the FDATreatment IND program that allows the company to recoveronly certain costs of the product.

The larger figure represents Genzyme's total 1991 revenues,including those generated from products other than Ceredase,which is used to treat Gaucher's disease, Termeer said.

Exaggerated sales figures could give an impression of windfallprofits from drugs that have been granted orphan status, saidcompany spokeswoman Donna LaVoie.

The legislation sponsored by Metzenbaum and KansasRepublican Nancy Kassenbaum would extend the Orphan DrugAct for three years, but exclude "blockbuster drugs" when salesreach $200 million.

Metzenbaum's staff is "looking into" Genzyme's allegations,according to his assistant press secretary, Eugene Cotilli. Thesubcommittee plans to hold additional hearings, but has not yetscheduled them.

-- Steve Usdin BioWorld Washington Bureau

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