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Multiple Sclerosis: Serono to codevelop cladribine as an oral therapy for MS

December 20, 2002
Drug Week

Serono, S.A., (SRA) and IVAX Corp. (IVX) announced a worldwide agreement to develop and commercialize IVAX's product, cladribine, as potentially the first orally effective treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Ernesto Bertarelli, CEO of Serono, commented: "This agreement is part of our long-term strategy for developing novel therapies in neurology. With cladribine we plan to offer patients an oral therapy which complements Rebif, our leading treatment for multiple sclerosis."

Based upon clinical and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data from phase II trials suggesting that intravenous cladribine may be effective in certain MS patients, Serono and IVAX plan to establish the optimal oral formulation of cladribine and then initiate further clinical trials.

Under terms of the agreement, IVAX will receive a series of undisclosed milestone payments and will also receive royalties on sales of the product, once marketed. The current worldwide market for multiple sclerosis treatments is more than $2.5 billion.

Cladribine is a purine-analogue that disrupts the proliferation of certain white blood cells, including monocytes and lymphocytes, which are involved in the pathological process of multiple sclerosis.

This article was prepared by Drug Week editors from staff and other reports.

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