Cygnus Therapeutic Systems Inc., which is scaling up to bringproducts to market, has appointed Gregory B. Lawlesspresident and chief executive officer.

Lawless, the former Chiron Corp. president, who was left out ofthe reorganization following Chiron's merger with Cetus Corp.,has brought a company from the lab to the marketplace, and"we needed somebody who had done that before," said GaryCleary, Cygnus' founder and chairman.

Last week the company (NASDAQ:CYGN) said increasedspending for start-up manufacturing and process developmentrelated to its Nicotrol nicotine patch contributed to an increasedloss in 1991. The loss was $7 million, or 64 cents a share, on$5.1 million in revenue, compared with a loss of $3 million, or43 cents, on $5.9 million in revenues in 1990.

In the past few months, the FDA has approved patchesdeveloped by Alza Corp., Ciba-Geigy Corp. and Elan Corp. plc.They all give 24-hour delivery of nicotine, whereas Nicotrol is a16-hour patch.

A 16-hour patch mimics the natural pattern of smoking duringwaking hours, but may not counter the craving that smokingaddicts often experience on awakening. Yet the 24-hourdelivery strategy can induce vivid and unpleasant dreams, andcould induce tolerance to the patch's nicotine, according tocorrespondence in the Jan. 27 New England Journal of Medicine.

Nicotine delivery through the skin appears to work as well on a16-hour as a 24-hour basis to help smokers quit, according tothe correspondents. Investigators who studied the Cygnuspatch reported in two-year follow-up data that 12 percent ofthe treated group was still off cigarettes, compared with 3percent in the placebo group. One-year data had shown 17percent of smokers abstaining after wearing the patch,compared with 4 percent of the placebo users.

Other Cygnus products include an estradiol delivery system,now in Phase III testing for menopause symptoms and slatedfor tests to prevent osteoporosis, and a fentanyl patch to treatpost-operative and cancer pain. A new drug application for thefentanyl patch, now in late Phase III trials, should be filed inthe first half of the year, said Cleary.

Warner-Lambert's Parke-Davis division has North Americanmarketing rights to the estradiol and nicotine patches, whileAnaquest has the marketing rights to the fentanyl patch.

David de Weese, Cygnus' current president and CEO, will leavethe Redwood City, Calif., company to help establish DepoMedSystems, a start-up focused on controlled-release oral drugdelivery. He will remain on Cygnus' board.

Cygnus has supported DepoMed with some funding and accessto its laboratories. "But DepoMed didn't fit into our transdermalstrategy," said Cleary. Cygnus will have a small equityinvestment in DepoMed, he said.

Cygnus stock closed at $27, down 50 cents, on Friday.

-- Roberta Friedman, Ph.D. Special to BioWorld

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