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SANDOZ TO INCREASE U.S. "CANCER INITIATIVE" RESEARCH TEAM SIX- FOLD BY 1995

Executive Summary

SANDOZ TO INCREASE U.S. "CANCER INITIATIVE" RESEARCH TEAM SIX- FOLD BY 1995, to 75 or 80 people, Sandoz said in materials distributed at the March 9 dedication of a new research facility. Sandoz' current U.S. Oncology Group comprises 15 researchers. The new lab, situated on Sandoz' East Hanover, N.J. campus, will include "one whole floor...for our new field in oncology," Sandoz Research Institute President Jurg Meier, PhD, told an audience of Sandoz employees, New Jersey state government officials including Governor James Florio (D), and press. "It is really an entrance of Sandoz" into the cancer research field, Meier said. Sandoz will pursue two avenues of oncology research in the facility: a "mechanistic approach" targeted at intracellular signals that enhance abnormal cell growth, and gene therapy to alter tumor cells to make them more susceptible to the immune system. Sandoz has collaborators for each program. Dana Farber will contribute to the signal transduction research under a year- old agreement ("The Pink Sheet" March 11, 1991, T&G-4); Sandoz and Genetic Therapy Inc. will collaborate on the gene therapy research under a November agreement ("The Pink Sheet" Dec. 2, 1991, T&G-8). The growth in the oncology group is part of an anticipated expansion of the Sandoz Research Institute from 850 people to over 1,400 by the mid-1990s, Sandoz said. The new lab, called Building 405, will house 250 researchers including some new hires. The $50 mil. spent on Building 405 is the first step in a planned $1 bil. capital expansion at the East Hanover site, Sandoz said. The company is currently renovating its main office tower and completing a quality control facility. Sandoz Pharmaceuticals Corporation President and CEO Jacques Rejeange used the occasion of the facility opening to publicly question congressional activity in the area of drug price regulation. The Senate began debating the economic growth package on March 10. On March 11, Sen. Pryor (D-Ark.) introduced his proposal to reduce the Sec. 936 tax credit available to companies with prices rising faster than inflation. Pryor is seeking to attach the bill, S 2000, to the growth package. The bill was tabled after a lengthy debate on the Senate floor (see related story, p. 6). "Only a profitable company can afford to make such significant investments into the future," Rejeange said. He added that Pryor's decision to hook the bill onto the economic growth package is ironic because "we see neither growth nor economic viability to his proposals." Rejeange's remarks touched on a theme more extensively discussed at a seminar on "R&D Challenges in the 90s" sponsored by Sandoz earlier that day. At the seminar, Rep. Gallo (R-N.J.) told an audience consisting primarily of Sandoz researchers that he opposed efforts to tinker with R&D tax credits. Gallo introduced a bill to make the R&D tax credit permanent (HR 3617) in October. Former Warner-Lambert CEO Joseph Williams, in a speech entitled "Pride, Prejudice and New Drugs," unfolded the arguments put forth by the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association against political efforts to attack the industry's profitability. The inauguration of Building 405 also provided a forum for Meier to introduce himself in his new capacity as U.S. R&D head of Sandoz' research staff. Sandoz announced Meier's appointment on March 6. Meier's predecessor, Robert Levy, MD, left to head American Home Products' worldwide R&D efforts ("The Pink Sheet" March 9, In Brief).
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