More MS news articles for July 2001

Berono sets Inpharmatica genomics pact

Thursday July 12, 3:50 AM EDT

GENEVA, July 12 (Reuters) - Serono SA (SEOZ) has agreed a genomics pact with Britain's Inpharmatica Ltd for drug discovery, Europe's biggest biotechnology firm said on Thursday.

It said details were due to be announced at a research and development day with analysts and investors on Friday.

Serono said it was working on developing two molecular entities, one that would help treat multiple sclerosis and one for premature labour.

CEO Ernesto Bertarelli said in a statement the firm was building a strong pipeline, with 13 molecular units in development. He said that multiple sclerosis drug Rebif continued to show strong positive results in clinical trials.

Serono is in a court battle with U.S. rival Biogen Inc (BGEN) over Serono's right to publish data comparing the firms' multiple sclerosis drugs.

Serono broke a court order banning the release of the data on a key head-to-head study on June 22. A ruling in the case in which Serono could face a fine is due in around two weeks.

Serono said data found patients treated with Rebif were less likely than patients on Biogen's Avonex to suffer relapses. Biogen has criticised the way the study was carried out.

At stake is whether Serono can overturn Avonex's "orphan drug" protection that runs until mid-2003 and thus gain early access to the $1-billion-a-year U.S. market for MS drugs.

©2001 Reuters Limited.