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Warner-Lambert To Acquire Agouron, Merge Drug Discovery Technologies


MORRIS PLAINS, NJ--In a merger aimed at building complementary drug discovery capabilities, Warner-Lambert announced last week that it will acquire Agouron Pharmaceuticals for approximately $2.1 billion in stock. The La Jolla, Calif.-based Agouron, which achieved total revenues of $467 million for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1998, employs more than 1,000 people, 700 of whom are engaged in research and development.

Warner-Lambert said the transaction would augment its new product pipeline and significantly expand its presence in therapeutic areas such as antivirals and oncology. "This merger is intended to strengthen our research and development capabilities through access to complementary technologies such as structure-based drug design," said Anthony Wild, president of the pharmaceutical sector of Warner-Lambert.

Warner-Lambert said the acquisition would enhance both companies' capabilities in drug discovery. Agouron will gain global reach in development and commercial infrastructure, which is of particular importance with several new product launches anticipated in the next few years, and will benefit from additional resources that will permit it to expand its innovative approach to rational drug design, the companies said.

Agouron is engaged in the discovery, development, and commercialization of drugs to treat cancer, viral diseases, and diseases of the eye. The company claims that it has distinguished itself from other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies with a protein-structure-based approach to rational drug design that integrates genetic engineering techniques that allow the identification, purification, and modification of target proteins with innovations in protein X-ray crystallography. The approach utilizes programs run on high-speed computers that permit prediction and simulation of molecular structure, dynamics, and energetics.

Worldwide pharmaceutical revenues for Warner-Lambert, which employs 40,000 people, are expected to exceed $7 billion by the end of this year. Under the terms of the agreement each share of Agouron stock will be exchanged for approximately $60 worth of Warner-Lambert stock, or no less than 0.8108 share of Warner-Lambert common stock for each share of Agouron common stock.

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