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Human Genome Sciences Reclaims Exclusive Rights to Technology, Embarks on Drug Discovery Mission

NEW YORK, July 2 - Human Genome Sciences said Monday it had reclaimed the exclusive rights to its data and technologies following the June 30 expiration of a 1996 agreement that gave members of the human gene therapeutic consortium equal access to HGS’s technology and intellectual property for the development of small molecule and antibody drugs.

While the five members of the international consortium will continue to have exclusive rights to develop therapeutic proteins they have identified, no new use of Human Genome Sciences' technology will be allowed.

The original consortium, which included Human Genome Sciences and SmithKline
Beecham, was expanded to include Takeda Chemicals in 1995 and Schering-Plough, Merck, and Sanofi-Synthelabo in 1996. 

“Human Genome Sciences is now entering a new era in its development as a corporation,” CEO William Haseltine said in a statement.

“The expiration of the initial term of the human gene therapeutic consortium agreement frees our company to use our technology to begin new drug discovery projects on our own behalf without obligations to our existing partners.  It also allows our company to enter new agreements with large pharmaceutical companies and established and emerging biotechnology companies,” he said.

Human Genome Sciences of Rockville, Md., said it was now primarily interested in bringing its own drugs to market but would also look to enter new partnerships, albeit ones with strong upside potential.

“I believe there is substantial value to be had in the near, intermediate and long term from such partnerships. We are not in a rush to enter such agreements. We are now well capitalized,” Haseltine said. “Our primary objective is to bring to market our own drugs.  Our focus for future partnerships will be on quality not quantity. We prefer transactions that provide us with participation in the sale of products developed using our own technology.”

Human Genome Sciences also stands to benefit from the findings stemming from the consortium. The company said that as a result of the consortium, the group’s members are now pursuing about 280 genes and developing about 30 therapeutic protein drugs, with many of the targets unique to each company.

Human Genome Sciences is entitled to product development milestones on each drug that enters clinical development by its partners as well as royalties on the sale of each product. HGS also has co-promotion rights in North America and Europe to products successfully developed by GlaxoSmithKline. Human Genome Sciences also retains rights to the same targets actively being used by its partners, to develop its own small molecule and antibody drugs.

The company, which previously provided its partners with access to its database, bioinformatic systems, and biologicial information said it was unlikely that it would provide broad access to its technology in future deals.

Instead, HGS will look to provide access to specific drug discovery and development
opportunities in return for payments in cash or equity and significant co-promotion rights.

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