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Irvine Firm to Develop Insomnia Drug

May 22, 1996|LESLEY WRIGHT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

IRVINE — Monsanto Co.'s Searle unit said it will team up with Irvine-based CoCensys Inc. in a multimillion-dollar effort to develop a drug to treat insomnia.

Searle will pay $10 million initially to CoCensys, a small biopharmaceutical research and development company, but the arrangement could generate $80 million in licensing fees and other Searle contributions toward development costs over the next six years, the companies said.

Officials at CoCensys said the deal marks the first time a major pharmaceutical house has invested in the synthetic drug compounds called Epalons, which were developed by the two research doctors who founded the company in 1989.

"This is validation from the industry," said CoCensys spokeswoman Christi Foster.

The 150-employee company develops drugs to treat neurological and psychiatric disorders, but none of its own drug products has been approved for marketing.

The companies hope to produce a marketable drug in about six years, they said.

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