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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP / BARBARA MURPHY

Amgen Licenses Firm to Sell Interferon Abroad

June 25, 1996|BARBARA MURPHY

Amgen Inc. said it has licensed to Yamanouchi Pharmaceutical Co. the rights to develop and sell consensus interferon in most of the world.

Yamanouchi, Japan's third-largest pharmaceutical company, paid an initial $15 million and will make additional payments totaling several times that as certain development milestones are met. Yamanouchi also will pay royalties on sales.

Consensus interferon, or CIFN, is a synthetic form of one type of interferon. Created by Amgen scientists, the drug has undergone extensive clinical testing for treating hepatitis C, cirrhosis and a form of cancer.

Thousand Oaks-based Amgen is keeping the rights to sell consensus interferon in the United States and Canada. Amgen's units in Japan and Hong Kong will retain certain development and marketing rights in Japan, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Amgen said the licensing arrangement will help it sell the product in Japan, which is the world's largest market for interferon.

"We expect this groundbreaking compound to become a key product in our global marketing strategy," said Masayoshi Onoda, president and chief operating officer of Yamanouchi.

Amgen said studies in North America have shown CIFN to be safe and effective for treating chronic hepatitis C. In April, Amgen asked the Food and Drug Administration for clearance to sell CIFN in the United States.

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