Sepracor Inc. has signed an agreement with Japan's TanabeSeiyaku Co. Ltd. to produce commercial quantities of diltiazem,an anti-hypertensive and angina drug, using Sepracor's chiralbiocatalysis and membrane reactor technology.

Sepracor (NASDAQ:SEPR) uses biological methods to producepure isomer forms of drugs. "Sepracor is providing a muchmore efficient, low-cost process for synthesizing the pureisomer," said Dr. Robert Bratzler, general manager of Sepracor'schiral chemicals division.

Tanabe will purchase bioreactor equipment and process controlhardware and software from Sepracor, pay recurring leaserevenue for membrane replacement modules, and pay royaltiesbased on the volume of its diltiazem production.

"We are projecting that we will have $2 million in revenues forstart-up and equipment costs and $1.5 to $2 million in thefollowing years for royalties, some membrane replacement andreplacement of modules or cartridges," said Sepracorspokeswoman Priscilla Harlan.

The Marlborough, Mass., company and Tanabe havecollaborated on a pilot-scale production process for two years.To date, the collaboration has provided Sepracor with about$10 million in revenue, net of royalty and recurring membranesales.

Diltiazem, with worldwide sales of about $1 billion, is marketedin the United States as Cardizem by Marion Merrill Dow.Tanabe's patent on diltiazem expired in 1989, but MarionMerrill Dow has market exclusivity under the Waxman-HatchAct through 1993, Bratzler said.

Sepracor's stock climbed 50 cents to $8.50 on Monday.

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