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MoAb firm chooses technetium tag

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Monoclonal developer Biomira is betting that the newfound cost-consciousnessof the U.S. health-care industry will make winners of its imagingproducts. The Canadian firm, headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta, is developingmonoclonal antibodies with

Monoclonal developer Biomira is betting that the newfound cost-consciousnessof the U.S. health-care industry will make winners of its imagingproducts.

The Canadian firm, headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta, is developingmonoclonal antibodies with technetium rather than indium labels.A technetium label costs $2, according to Robert Aubrey, Biomiravice president of marketing and sales. An indium component cancost $400 or more.

"You have to think about cost in this environment, notjust clinical value and diagnostic utility," Aubrey said.

The company has several monoclonal antibodies in clinical tests.One, Tru-Scint OV, is aimed specifically at ovarian cancer. Another,Tru-Scint AD, detects ovarian and breast cancer.

"It's a position we're happy to be in," Aubrey said."Because of the multiple indications, we can justify havingtwo products for (ovarian) cancer."

Neither product will be on the U.S. market earlier than 1995.Phase three clinical tests must be conducted for both Tru-ScintOV and AD, and the Food and Drug Administration approval processis expected to take at least two years.

Not so for competitor Cytogen, which is already on the marketwith an indium-based monoclonal antibody for ovarian cancer--thefirst monoclonal antibody to be commercialized. Aubrey maintainsthat Biomira could have had a product ready for the American marketas early as 1994, but, like the Cytogen agent, it would have hadan indium label.

"We made a decision five years ago that we would not gointo the market until we had a technetium-labeled product,"he said. "We felt that with the high cost of indium, it wasn'tpractical in a clinic."

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