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Schering-Plough buys hepatitis C drug rights

Thursday July 16, 2:53 pm Eastern Time
MADISON, N.J., July 16 (Reuters) - Schering-Plough Corp. announced Thursday that it had exclusive worldwide marketing rights to oral ribavirin for treatment of hepatitis C.

The pharmaceuticals giant said it had acquired from ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc. the European marketing rights to oral ribavirin for the treatment of hepatitis C.

As part of the agreement, ICN will receive an increased royalty on worldwide sales of oral ribavirin and a one-time compensation of $16.5 million.

This includes reimbursement of certain expenses related to ICN's preparation for the launch of oral ribavirin in the EU for hepatitis C.

Further details of the agreement are not being disclosed.

Schering-Plough said it had submitted a marketing authorization application to the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products.

In the application, it is seeking to market rebetron combination therapy containing ribavirin capsules and interferon alfa-2b.

This is a recombinant injection to treat chronic hepatitis C in compensated liver disease patients who have relapsed following alpha interferon therapy.

Ribavirin is a synthetic nucleoside analog with broad-spectrum antiviral activity. Interferon alfa-2b is a recombinant version of naturally occurring alpha interferon, which has been shown to exert both antiviral and immunomodulatory effects.

Schering-Plough markets interferon alfa-2b as intron A, the world's largest-selling alpha interferon, for 16 major antiviral and anticancer indications worldwide.

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