SAN FRANCISCO -- Synergen Inc. Chief Executive Officer JonSaxe predicted Tuesday that the company's Antril interleukin-1 receptor antagonist will be the second or third product intothe market to treat sepsis and septic shock.

Saxe's remarks came in response to negative analyst commentsabout Antril that sent the company's stock tumbling.

The stock (NASDAQ:SYGN) lost $7.13 on Monday after MerrillLynch's Stuart Weisbrod predicted that Antril would be thefifth sepsis product to enter the market and would garner onlya 15 percent market share by 1995. Weisbrod also wasskeptical of Antril's use as an anti-inflammatory and warnedthat Biogen Inc. had applied for a competing patent. Synergenclosed up 88 cents on Tuesday at $60.75.

Answering questions at the Montgomery Securities 21stAnnual Investment Conference here, Saxe said it should makeno difference that Antril must be given by continuous infusionrather than as a one-shot bolus because patients with sepsisare already on intravenous medications. Nor will Antril bepriced out of the market. "When I saw our competitors' prices,my reaction was unadulterated glee," he said.

While Synergen won't discuss the results of its Phase IIclinical trials until some time before Thanksgiving, Saxe saidthat the 3 percent mortality improvement for patientsreceiving Centocor Corp.'s Centoxin in trials "was not a result Ithink we will have trouble with." Antril will enter Phase IIItrials for sepsis and septic shock late this year.

Saxe also said that in Phase I trials, Antril, which must beself-injected, has won acceptance from patients with severerheumatoid arthritis because of the fast relief it provides. Thecompany will begin Phase II trials late this year.

As far as the Biogen patent application is concerned, "therewon't be any interference because the two groups aren'tclaiming the same invention," Saxe told BioWorld. "To ourknowledge, the project has been dropped. Most companieslooking for IL-1 antagonists dropped their work when they sawour patent."

A researcher at Biogen Geneva had found an activity in urinethat inhibited IL-1, but it was never purified, cloned orexpressed, Saxe said.

In his presentation, Saxe updated clinical trial progress. PhaseII trials of Antril in asthma and inflammatory bowel diseasewill begin shortly. Phase III trials of elastase inhibitor SLPI totreat cystic fibrosis will begin in 1992. Synergen of Boulder,Colo., will file in the latter half of 1992 for marketingapproval of Trofak for wound healing of chronic skin ulcers.

-- Karen Bernstein BioWorld Staff

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