Sign Interferon alpha-2b Development Agreement


SUFFOLK, U.K., July 2, 2002 (PRIMEZONE) -- SkyePharma PLC (LSE:SKP) (Nasdaq:SKYE) and GeneMedix plc (LSE:GMX) today announce the signature of a Joint Agreement to develop an extended release formulation of interferon alpha2b using SkyePharma's proven DepoFoam injectable drug delivery technology. Interferon alpha2b is already accepted as a part of the standard therapy in the treatment of Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B infection, and as an adjunct to chemotherapy in certain forms of cancer.

Paul Edwards, GeneMedix' Chief Executive Officer, commented: "This Agreement is an important milestone in the development of GeneMedix. Our stated objective is to develop innovative formulations of our recombinant proteins, enabling us to compete more successfully, especially in Europe and the USA. This deal with SkyePharma gives us access to an advanced project using proven drug delivery technology."

SkyePharma has already formulated interferon alpha2b with its DepoFoam technology. Reflecting this, and the value of the DepoFoam licensing rights, SkyePharma received from GeneMedix an initial payment of US $5m. The payment was satisfied through the issue of an unsecured Note, carrying a 5% coupon, which is convertible at any time into between approximately 8.3 million and 11.2 million fully paid, ordinary GeneMedix shares. GeneMedix has the option to redeem the Note for cash in certain circumstances. In addition, SkyePharma will receive undisclosed milestones payable against progress through clinical development. The two companies will assume equal shares of further development and manufacturing costs and will also share potential milestones received and royalties from a third party on the eventual outlicensing and sales of the product.

Therapeutic proteins are easily degraded inside the body. SkyePharma's proven DepoFoama extended release, injectable technology, combined with GeneMedix' recombinant interferon alpha2b, has the possibility to deliver therapeutic doses of the protein in a controlled manner for a period up to 28 days from a single injection. This would represent a considerable benefit to patients with Hepatitis C whose current treatment may require injection of interferon alpha2b every few days.

Michael Ashton, SkyePharma's Chief Executive Officer, commented: "Extended release formulations of macromolecules, particularly proteins, create a substantial market opportunity believed to be worth in excess of U.S. $10 billion. We have several third party development agreements already in place and now intend to capitalise on our inhouse expertise by specifically targeting deals where we share the potential rewards. The synergy between GeneMedix' expertise in the manufacture of recombinant proteins and our extended release technologies presents an exciting prospect for many such projects in the future."


SkyePharma PLC uses its worldleading drug delivery technology to develop easiertouse and more effective formulations of drugs. The majority of challenges faced in the formulation and delivery of drugs can be addressed by one of the Company's proprietary technologies in the areas of oral, injectable, inhaled and topical delivery, supported by enhanced solubilization capabilities. For more information, visit

GeneMedix plc is establishing a portfolio of high quality, recombinant protein products to treat both acute and chronic diseases by efficiently managing intellectual property, building a manufacturing network and establishing long term collaborations with marketing partners to provide those products at affordable prices on a global basis. Further information is available on

Hepatitis C is one of the most serious forms of hepatitis, a major global disease that can lead to serious complications including liver cancer. Less than 2% of the world's estimated 170 million chronicallyinfected Hepatitis C patients receive therapy. A new report (Decision Resources, Inc) finds the market for Hepatitis C treatments "poised for dramatic growth." The report forecasts that sales of pharmaceuticals to treat Hepatitis Cinfected patients will increase almost threefold between 2001 and 2011 in the major pharmaceutical markets (the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Japan), growing from $1.7 billion in 2001 to a projected $6.6 billion in 2011.


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