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Roche Licenses Potential Second-Generation Drug From ICN to Set New

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    Roche Licenses Potential Second-Generation Drug From ICN to Set New Standards In Hepatitis C Treatment BASEL, Switzerland, July 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Roche and ICN
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 2, 2001
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      Roche Licenses Potential Second-Generation Drug From
      ICN to Set New
      Standards In Hepatitis C Treatment


      BASEL, Switzerland, July 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Roche and
      ICN
      Pharmaceuticals,
      Inc. (NYSE: ICN) announced today that Roche has
      licensed in the rights
      to
      the developmental compound Levovirin, a promising
      second-generation
      drug
      for the treatment of hepatitis C from ICN.

      Roche is currently developing Pegasys, its pegylated
      version of
      interferon
      alpha 2a, which on its own represents a major
      improvement in the
      treatment
      of hepatitis C. Its use in combination with Levovirin
      is expected to
      set
      new standards of care in this therapeutic area.

      Levovirin is an L-isomer of ribavirin, which is part
      of current
      treatment
      regimes for hepatitis C. In preclinical studies,
      Levovirin shows
      immuno-modulatory activity similar to ribavirin but a
      better
      tolerability
      profile. Most importantly, the compound has not shown
      genotoxic
      effects
      in animals and cell-line studies and it does not seem
      to cause
      hemolytic
      anemia which is the major dose limiting side effect of
      ribavirin.
      Phase I
      clinical trials for the treatment of hepatitis C
      including Levovirin
      have
      been initiated in February 2001.

      Levovirin will represent an important addition to
      Pegasys. The highest
      sustained virological response to therapy ever
      recorded for chronic
      hepatitis C patients has been achieved with
      combination therapy of
      Pegasys
      (40 kDa branched peginterferon alfa-2a) and ribavirin.
      The results
      from
      Phase III clinical trials were reported at the
      Digestive Disease Week
      in
      Atlanta, USA, in May this year. ICN also presented
      Levovirin's
      preclinical and development data at the same meeting.

      "The incidence of hepatitis C is growing worldwide and
      physicians will
      require a range of highly effective therapies to treat
      this disease,"
      said
      William M. Burns, head of the Pharmaceutical Division
      of Roche. "We
      believe that Roche is strongly suited to meet the
      current and future
      demands of the marketplace and we see Levovirin as
      another important
      addition to our growing virology portfolio."

      Milan Panic, chairman and chief executive officer of
      ICN, said: "We
      are
      pleased that Roche, a leading pharmaceutical company
      with its
      reputation
      for high-quality and innovative products, will assume
      responsibility
      for
      the development of Levovirin. Roche's worldwide
      marketing and
      distribution capabilities will enable physicians and
      their patients
      access
      to what we hope will prove to be a significant
      addition to the
      hepatitis C
      therapeutic arsenal."

      About the licensing agreement

      Roche will pay a one-time licensing fee, milestone
      payments, and, after
      Levovirin has been successfully developed and received
      regulatory
      marketing clearance, royalties to ICN. Roche will be
      in charge of all
      future development activities and will have global
      marketing rights
      except
      for some Eastern European countries. Roche will also
      offer to ICN a
      compound at a similar stage of development.

      About Hepatitis C

      Hepatitis C is a potentially life-threatening viral
      infection that can
      lead to liver inflammation, liver disease, cirrhosis
      or liver cancer.
      Transmitted primarily through infected blood,
      approximately three
      percent
      of the world's population, or 170 million, is infected
      with the
      hepatitis
      C virus, making hepatitis C more common than the HIV
      virus. Chronic
      hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver
      transplantation today.

      About ICN

      ICN, headquartered in Costa Mesa, California, is an
      innovative-research
      focused global pharmaceutical company that
      manufacturers, markets and
      distributes a broad range of prescription and
      non-prescription
      pharmaceuticals under the ICN brand name. Its
      therapeutic focus is in
      anti-infectives, including anti-virals, dermatology
      and oncology.

      About Roche

      Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is one of
      the world's
      leading
      research-oriented healthcare groups in the fields of
      pharmaceuticals,
      diagnostics and vitamins. Roche's products and
      services address
      prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, thus
      enhancing
      well-being
      and quality of life. Roche has approximately 64,000
      employees and
      sells
      its products in over 170 countries. In 2000 the Roche
      Group posted
      sales
      of 28,7 billion Swiss francs and an adjusted net
      income of 5,0 billion
      Swiss francs.

      THE SAFE HARBOR STATEMENT UNDER THE PRIVATE SECURITIES
      LITIGATION
      REFORM
      ACT OF 1995. This press release contains
      forward-looking statements
      that
      involve risks and uncertainties, including but not
      limited to,
      projections
      of future sales, operating income, returns on invested
      assets.
      Regulatory
      approval processes and other risks detailed from time
      to time in the
      company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

      SOURCE ICN Pharmaceuticals, Inc.


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