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UPDATE: 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 was formed in 1993 and included Human Genome Sciences and SmithKline Beecham, was expanded to include Takeda Chemicals in 1995 and Schering-Plough, Merck, and Sanofi-Synthelabo in 1996.  

"In 1993, it was important to our company to obtain significant amounts of cash to fuel our early development" and obtain rights to partners' products, CEO William Haseltine said during a conference call. "We had in mind then and today something far more ambitious than being a service company. We are not a service company and never have been. We are dedicated almost completely to internal drug discovery."

Haseltine said the databases and bioinformatics tools now exclusively Human Genome Sciences’, when not used internally, would be utilized only in partnerships offering milestones payments, royalties and co-promotion rights, though he did say starting new companies was also an option.

“There are many new opportunities for us, we are like kids in a candy store,” said Haseltine, adding that all alliances would be directed at “helping us become a fully integrated pharmaceutical company focusing on therapeutic proteins and antibody development.”

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. 

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