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Berna Biotech AG Decides To Reposition Rhein Biotech

10/19/2005 5:09:50 PM

Düsseldorf, 24 May 2005 - Berna Biotech AG, the Swiss Exchange listed company, has decided to expand the business activities of its Düsseldorf-based subsidiary, Rhein Biotech GmbH. Rhein Biotech GmbH is a renowned company with 20 years of market experience. In the future, it will operate as a product development company and strategic partner for biotech companies. Both companies expect that the new orientation will strengthen their core competencies and thus optimise value generation.

In 2002, Berna Biotech announced its acquisition of the Dutch mother company, Rhein Biotech NV. After the successful completion of the integration process, Berna Biotech AG has decided to position Rhein Biotech GmbH as an independent product development company and strategic partner for biotech companies. The separation of business operations enables Rhein Biotech GmbH to expand its business activities on an independent basis as a member of the Berna Biotech Group. "This step will provide Rhein Biotech GmbH with greater market proximity and flexibility so that it can gain new partners and investors," said Dr. Kuno Sommer, CEO of Berna Biotech AG.

In the past, Rhein Biotech GmbH has repeatedly demonstrated that it is capable of successfully developing projects from the pre-clinical to the market stage. As a strategic partner, it particularly supports early-stage biotech companies that focus on biopharmaceutical research in early project stages. The aim is to bring their projects to the clinical stage as quickly and cost efficiently as possible in order to drive forward the value creation process. "Bearing this in mind, Rhein Biotech GmbH is a very interesting option for venture capital providers and investors in small-scale biotechnology companies who are keen to speed up their projects and business developments to generate added value, explained Frank Ubags, CEO of Rhein Biotech GmbH.

Rhein Biotech GmbH has already brought five products to market launch stage and successfully licensed them out: two 3- dose hepatitis B vaccines, insulin, alpha-interferon and hirudin. Three additional products are in the development pipeline. Before the end of the year, it is planning to launch a new 2-dose hepatitis B vaccine with a shortened vaccination scheme on the Argentinean market. With this vaccine, immune protection is achieved after only three months. The new vaccine has the potential to play a significant role in the € 1 billion market for hepatitis B vaccines. Rhein Biotech GmbH is particularly optimistic about the development of a therapeutic vaccine for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B virus infections. The project is currently in the pre-clinical stage and start of clinical trials is estimated in the course of 2006. The therapeutic vaccine will open up an entirely new, commercially attractive market segment for the treatment of chronic hepatitis. Today's conventional symptomatic treatments (interferons and anti-viral compounds) account for global sales of almost € 3 billion. Rhein Biotech GmbH also has high expectations of the development of a vaccine to prevent infection with human cytomegalovirus (CMV). This project is still in the early development stage.

Dr. Kuno Sommer expects that the repositioning of Rhein Biotech GmbH is "a vital prerequisite for the step up in value creation at both companies".

Rhein Biotech GmbH: Rhein Biotech GmbH is currently a fully owned subsidiary of the Dutch company, Rhein Biotech N.V.. Berna Biotech AG, Switzerland, currently holds a 93 percent stake in the company. Rhein Biotech GmbH has 20 years' experience in the biotechnology sector, 17 years of which (1985 - 2002) as product development company and external service provider.

Berna Biotech AG (Swiss Exchange: BBIN): Berna Biotech AG develops, produces and markets vaccines and immunotherapeutics for private and public markets worldwide. Headquartered in Bern, Switzerland, with subsidiaries in Europe and Korea, Berna Biotech is a fully-integrated company employing over 800 people. Berna Biotech's range of novel and validated proprietary technology platforms supports a strong product portfolio. The company markets five core vaccines in the hepatitis B, respiratory, paediatric and travel franchises, and has a broad development pipeline. Product development is supported through alliances with academic and commercial partners. Press release

Contact: Frank Ubags; Tel +49 211 7 58 45 - 0

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