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BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB ACCELERATES PRODUCTION OF ANTI-CANCER DRUG, TAXOL

BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB ACCELERATES PRODUCTION OF ANTI-CANCER DRUG, TAXOL
 WASHINGTON, March 4 /PRNewswire/ -- In comments made today before a congressional hearing on the "Pacific Yew Act of 1991" (H.R. 3836), Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE: BMY) reported significant progress in the development of taxol, an experimental drug designated a top priority by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) because of its promise in the treatment of refractory ovarian and other cancers.
 Zola Horovitz, Ph.D., vice president, business development and planning, Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Group, said, "We have met or exceeded all of the goals agreed to with the NCI, including increasing supplies of harvesting Pacific yew bark, increasing supplies of taxol, initiating a search for alternative sources of taxol, and developing necessary information to support a New Drug Application." Currently, the only source of Taxol approved for human use is the bark of the Pacific yew tree.
 Horovitz detailed progress in four areas:
 -- Increasing Supplies of Pacific Yew Bark: "Our first objective for 1991 was to gather 750,000 pounds of Pacific yew bark, the raw material necessary for production of taxol for human use.
 "This target amount was dramatically higher than actual collection levels in prior years. As a direct result of the efforts of the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and our contractor, Hauser Chemical Research, Inc., we were able to collect more than 825,000 pounds of yew bark from public lands."
 -- Increasing Supplies of Taxol: "Bristol-Myers Squibb agreed to double the NCI's supply during the first year of the CRADA (Cooperative Research and Development Agreement) by providing one kilogram of formulated taxol before the end of 1991. We actually exceeded this ambitious target. In April of 1991, only three months after the CRADA was signed, we began shipments to the National Cancer Institute. By the end of the year, we had delivered approximately 45,000 vials of formulated taxol -- the equivalent of more than 1.35 kilograms of bulk drug.
 "In January, 1992, we increased deliveries from 5,000 to 25,000 vials per month, and we have agreed to raise the supply to 50,000 vials per month beginning in April and continuing through the remainder of the year -- the equivalent of over 16 kilograms of formulated taxol in 1992. Of course, all taxol supplied to NCI under the CRADA has been, and will continue to be, provided free of charge."
 -- Initiating a Search for Alternative Sources of Taxol: "We also promised to begin an aggressive search for alternative sources of taxol so that our reliance on Pacific yew bark collected from the wild could be reduced substantially, if not eliminated, within three to five years. This effort has already produced meaningful results. We now expect that within two years, sources other than bark will begin to be utilized for taxol production on a commercial scale; within three years, reliance on bark will decrease substantially; and within five years, the need for bark should cease completely. Based on our experience to date, we do not foresee a time when we would have to make a choice between the environment and people's lives."
 -- Filing a New Drug Application: "Our fourth initial objective was to file a New Drug Application (NDA) within four years of January, 1991, the date on which the CRADA was signed. We now project that an NDA, seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to market taxol for refractory ovarian cancer, will be filed by mid-1992."
 "Bristol-Myers Squibb supports most of the goals of the sponsors of the Pacific Yew Act of 1991, especially with respect to the maintenance of a sustainable level of Pacific yew harvesting to support taxol production, while minimizing environmental consequences and promoting the long-term preservation of the species," Horovitz said. "In fact, we already are supporting many of the activities that would be mandated by the bill."
 For example, an environmental impact statement is being prepared, inventories are underway, yew conservation guidelines have been drafted, and a research program has been funded.
 Horovitz emphasized that, "Despite our clear record of success to date, many challenges still remain. It is absolutely critical that harvesting proceed under this program without impediment or delay for the next few years, so that taxol supplies will be adequate to meet the need of cancer patients."
 "We are confident that, beginning in 1994, our dependence on Pacific yew bark will be reduced. In the interim, however, we will continue to depend on the strong support of our federal partners and the Congress in order to ensure that taxol supplies are adequate."
 Bristol-Myers Squibb is a diversified health care company whose principal businesses are pharmaceuticals, consumer products, nutritionals and medical devices.
 -0- 3/4/92
 /CONTACT: Nancy Goldfarb of Bristol Myers Squibb, 212-546-5107, or Jennifer Hauser of PCI, 312-558-1770, for Bristol-Myers Squibb/
 (BMY) CO: Bristol-Myers Squibb Company ST: New York IN: MTC SU: SH -- NY014 -- 4805 03/04/92 09:03 EST
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Date:Mar 4, 1992
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