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New ICN Gains Linked to OK of Drug by Canada

August 20, 1986|ROBERT HANLEY | Times Staff Writer

ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Costa Mesa topped the New York Stock Exchange's most-active list Tuesday following news that Canadian authorities approved the drug Virazole for treating respiratory syncytial virus or RSV, a rare infant disease.

The company's antiviral drug, which last December was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating the same ailment, is also being tested as a possible medication for AIDS.

Tuesday marked the fifth consecutive trading day that shares of the drug company have made the most-active list. A total of 1,856,900 shares were traded Tuesday and the stock closed at $30, up $1.625 a share. Last week, ICN shot up 67% following a bullish recommendation by a Paine Webber analyst who predicted that by the end of the year, ICN will seek federal approval of Virazole for treating AIDS as well as influenza.

The announcement Tuesday apparently helped stem the profit-taking that set in Monday following last week's meteoric climb.

According to ICN, the Canadian approval brings to 23 the number of countries where Virazole is available. In addition to RSV, the drug is used overseas to treat influenza, herpes and other viral diseases.

Securities analysts currently estimate RSV-related sales of Virazole in the United States of between $15 million and $20 million this year. Although the Canadian drug market typically is about 10% the size of the U.S. market, Lawrence Panitz, ICN senior vice president, declined to project how much in revenues the Canadian approval may generate.

Dr. Michael Davis, chief of the Canada Health and Welfare Department's infection and immunology section, said in an interview Tuesday that the market for Virazole in Canada is limited, because RSV "is not a frequent problem by any means."

ICN's subsidiary, Viratek Inc., gained $13 in over-the-counter trading Tuesday to close at $80 a share. The subsidiary's stock, which has quadrupled in price since May, was split 2 for 1 Monday. ICN's other over-the-counter traded subsidiary, SPI Pharmaceuticals Inc., closed at $39 a share, up 75 cents for the day.

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