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Advancis Loses Partnership For Slow-Release Antibiotic

By Michael Barbaro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 20, 2004; Page E01

Germantown biotechnology company Advancis Pharmaceutical Corp. yesterday said it has lost its partnership to develop an antibiotic with British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline PLC.

The loss of Advancis's most prestigious partnership sent its stock price plummeting. Shares dropped $4.53 -- or 62 percent -- to close at $2.75.

Advancis chief executive Edward M. Rudnic said the break with the British drugmaker was about finances, not any problems with the technology. (Ricky Carioti -- The Washington Post)

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GlaxoSmithKline's decision represents a blow to the five-year-old company, which is redeveloping a wide range of commonly prescribed oral antibiotics in an effort to make them perform more efficiently in the body.

"Their validating partnership with a major pharmaceutical company has gone away," said Gregory R. Wade, an analyst at Pacific Growth Equities. "It has created some concern on Wall Street that there is a problem with the company's core technology."

Advancis chief executive and president Edward M. Rudnic said GlaxoSmithKline terminated its partnership for financial reasons, and he vigorously defended his company's technology.

"Everything we heard from [Glaxo] has been exceedingly positive," he said. "This is not a pronouncement on the scientific or commercial prospects of the technology."

A spokeswoman for GlaxoSmithKline was unavailable for comment yesterday. According to Advancis, the collaboration will end Dec. 15.

Advancis and GlaxoSmithKline had agreed to develop a new version of an antibiotic called Augmentin that is designed to treat pneumonia and bronchitis.

The drug would have employed Advancis's patented slow-release drug technology, which the company says improves an antibiotic's performance by repeatedly assaulting bacteria between oral doses.

Traditional antibiotics, by contrast, deliver a single burst of medicine, which can taper off and allow bacteria to regroup before a follow-up pill enters the body hours later, the company says.

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