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Canadian OK of Drug Boosts Stock of ICN

August 20, 1986|ROBERT HANLEY | Times Staff Writer

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

The company's anti-viral 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 acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

Tuesday marked the fifth consecutive trading day that shares of the drug company have made the most active list. A total of 1.85 million shares were traded Tuesday, and the stock closed at $30, up $1.62 1/2 a share.

Last week, ICN shot up 67% following a bullish recommendation by a Paine Webber analyst, who predicted that by year-end, ICN will seek federal approval of Virazole for treating AIDS, as well as influenza.

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 at between $15 million and $20 million a 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 revenue the Canadian approval may generate.

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 on Monday. ICN's other over-the-counter traded subsidiary, SPI Pharmaceuticals Inc., closed at $39 a share, up 75 cents.

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