Alza Corp. and its marketing partner, Marion Merrell Dow Inc.,said late Tuesday that the U.S. District Court in San Franciscowill rule late Thursday on a motion to enjoin the companiesfrom selling the Nicoderm transdermal nicotine patch.

The court earlier issued a temporary restraining order to delaythe introduction of Nicoderm pending a decision on thepreliminary injunction sought by Elan Corp. plc and AmericanCyanamid Co.

Shares of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Alza (AMEX:AZA) were down88 cents at $86.63 on Tuesday.

There are now two approved nicotine patches -- Alza's and onemade by Ciba-Geigy Corp. -- and five lawsuits.

Ciba-Geigy has filed separate suits against Alza/MMD and Elan.The suit against Elan, filed on Dec. 2, seeks a declaratoryjudgment that Elan's patent is invalid and that Ciba-Geigy'spatch doesn't infringe that patent. Elan and Cyanamid on Dec. 6filed a counterclaim, alleging that Ciba-Geigy infringes theirpatent. No date has been set for a hearing. Ciba-Geigy hasstarted selling its patch, a company spokeswoman said.

Elan in May also sued Cygnus Therapeutic Systems Inc.(NASDAQ:CYGN) of Redwood City, Calif., the other nicotine patchdeveloper. -- KB

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