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BITTNER AND PECK JOIN ICN PHARMACEUTICALS FOR VIRAZONE MARKETING AND REGULATORY EFFORTS

 COSTA MESA, Calif., Nov. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- ICN Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NYSE: ICN) today announced that two highly respected pharmaceutical industry professionals have joined two of its operating units to support plans for continued worldwide expansion of the antiviral Virazole (ribavirin), including a potential new indication for chronic active hepatitis C now under development.
 Thomas T. Bittner has joined SPI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. as Director of New Project Development. At SPI, he will be responsible for readying the launch and marketing in the U.S. of ribavirin (Virazole) capsules for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C, now completing Phase III clinical trials in the U.S. and Europe. If these trials are successful, the company plans to submit a New Drug Application to the Food and Drug Administration for permission to market the drug as a treatment for chronic hepatitis C. Virazole is already authorized in aerosol form by the FDA to treat infants hospitalized with severe lower respiratory tract infection caused by respiratory syncytial virus. Bittner was previously director of marketing for Astra U.S.A. Inc., where he created and oversaw the company's antiviral business.
 Michael E. Peck has joined Viratek, Inc. as Director-International Regulatory. He will oversee Virazole's international regulatory activities. Peck comes to Viratek from Marion Merrell Dow, where he was manager of international regulatory affairs. He is a member of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association International Regulatory Affairs Committee.
 Virazole is currently authorized in more than 40 countries outside the U.S. for at least one of eight different indications, including influenza, hepatitis and herpes. Pending successful completion of the current Phase III trials with ribavirin (Virazole) for chronic hepatitis C, the company plans to register it for hepatitis C in all major world markets.
 In addition to developing new indications for Virazole, Viratek, a nucleic-acid based pharmaceutical discovery and development company, has a number of potential new antiviral compounds in pro-clinical and clinical trials.
 The company also recently initiated a new discovery program to develop new therapeutic drugs that selectively block the expression of specific genes that cause disease. The program is based on oligonucleotide antisense technology. The now research activity will target antisense therapy against cancer, and viral and skin disorders. The program will seek to synthesize, characterize and patent antisense oligonucleotides that interact with growth factors, receptors, oncogenes and viruses.
 SPI Pharmaceuticals (AMEX: SPI), an operating unit of ICN Pharmaceuticals, manufactures, markets and distributes 600 prescription and nonprescription pharmaceuticals in more than 60 countries, including North and Latin America, Western and Eastern Europe, and the Far East. Viratek (AMEX: VRA), an ICN subsidiary, holds the patent to Virazole. SPI has worldwide marketing rights for Virazole.
 -0- 11/22/93
 /CONTACT: Jack Sholl of ICN Pharmaceuticals, 714-545-0100, ext. 3012/
 (ICN SPI VRA)


CO: ICN Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; SPI Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Viratek, Inc. ST: California IN: MTC SU: PER

GK-MP -- NY066 -- 6837 11/22/93 13:23 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 22, 1993
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