Nycomed rides tide of nonionic contrast use

July 15, 1992

Norwegian contrast developer Nycomed raised $74.7 million lastmonth through a U.S. stock offering. The Oslo firm issued 2.75million American depositary shares at a price of $27.18 a share,according to underwriter Merrill Lynch. The AD shares are listedon

Norwegian contrast developer Nycomed raised $74.7 million lastmonth through a U.S. stock offering. The Oslo firm issued 2.75million American depositary shares at a price of $27.18 a share,according to underwriter Merrill Lynch. The AD shares are listedon the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol HN.

Hafslund Nycomed is a diversified worldwide pharmaceuticalcompany. The company had operating revenues of $855 million in1991 (end-December) and profits of $244 million.

Medical imaging contrast is Nycomed's most profitable businessby far. Last year, $323 million, or 37% of total revenues, werederived from the contrast business. Contrast operating profitsin 1991 were $150 million, or 62% of consolidated operating profits,according to the public offering prospectus.

Nycomed has ridden high on the trend to increased use of nonionicx-ray contrast agents. Omnipaque, Nycomed's nonionic agent, has50% of the North American nonionic x-ray contrast market, whichis the world's largest (see graph). Sterling Winthrop manufacturesand sells Omnipaque in North America under license to Nycomed.

Omnipaque, which uses the active ingredient iohexol, accountsfor 34% of Nycomed's total revenues. Omnipaque sales, both directand through licensees, amounted to over $1 billion last year.The firm introduced its latest nonionic x-ray agent, iopentol-basedImagopaque for vascular applications, at the beginning of thisyear. Nycomed is developing a new nonionic x-ray agent using iodixanol,according to the prospectus.

Nycomed also developed Omniscan, a gadolinium MRI contrastagent currently under FDA application by Sterling. Schering fileda legal complaint against Sterling in U.S. federal court in Delawarein February, alleging that Omniscan infringes on three patentsfor its Magnevist agent. Magnevist is also a gadolinium MRI agentand the only MRI agent approved by the FDA.

The firm has two more MRI agents--for the abdomen and liver--underdevelopment in the clinical testing stage. Much of Nycomed's MRIcontrast technology was obtained through acquisition of U.S. developerSalutar three years ago (SCAN 11/09/88).

Nycomed has also licensed Molecular Biosystems' Albunex ultrasoundcardiac imaging agent for sale in Europe, Africa, the Middle Eastand India.