James D. Watson Helix Awards Honor Biotech's Top Performers

NEW YORK, Feb. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and the Long Island Life Sciences Initiative are honoring four superlative biotech companies with the James D. Watson Helix Awards:

  * OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc. , of Melville, N.Y.
  * Biogen Idec , of Cambridge, Mass.
  * Medarex Inc. , of Princeton, N.J.
  * Genmab A/S , of Copenhagen, Denmark

The winners, selected by peer vote, receive their awards today during a ceremony at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference in New York at the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel.

"Each of these companies is an industry leader that had an outstanding year in 2004," said BIO President Jim Greenwood. "OSI Pharmaceuticals and Biogen Idec launched breakthrough therapies. Medarex advanced a promising cancer product to Phase III and inked two major deals with pharmaceutical companies. Genmab reported positive news in five clinical programs."

The James D. Watson Helix Award honors leadership in three distinct areas: scientific innovation, company growth and corporate citizenship. It is presented by the Long Island Life Sciences Initiative (LILSI) and is jointly sponsored by BIO, Stony Brook University and The Center for Biotechnology.

Large-Capitalization Winner: OSI Pharmaceuticals

In November 2004, OSI Pharmaceuticals brought its first pipeline product to the marketplace, Tarceva(TM) (erlotinib), an oral therapy approved for non- small cell lung cancer and in clinical development for a number of other cancers. Tarceva blocks a molecule often implicated in cancer growth -- epidermal growth factor receptor -- and is partnered with Genentech and Roche. FDA approval of the drug was the fastest for oncology in history, at slightly over three months.

"We are honored to receive this prestigious award and be recognized for our leadership role in the fight against cancer by our industry peers," stated Colin Goddard, Ph.D., CEO at OSI Pharmaceuticals. "By discovering, developing and commercializing paradigm changing targeted therapies like our flagship product Tarceva, we can continue to extend the lives of cancer patients while avoiding the severe side effects associated with traditional chemotherapy. At OSI, we are also proud of our active role in supporting cancer and civic causes in our communities."

Large-Capitalization Winner: Biogen Idec

In 2004 Biogen Idec executed on its merger plan and launched a breakthrough drug for multiple sclerosis, Tysabri(R) (natalizumab), partnered with Elan Corp. plc. Tysabri is the first monoclonal antibody approved for MS and works through a novel mechanism of action that appears to keep inflammation-causing immune cells out of the brain.

"It is an honor to be recognized by one's peers, particularly in an industry focused on improving the quality of life of people everywhere," said James C. Mullen, President and CEO of Biogen Idec. "Congratulations to the dedicated employees at Biogen Idec who have truly earned this recognition."

Mid-Capitalization Winner: Medarex Inc.

In 2004, antibody specialist Medarex advanced MDX-010 to Phase III testing in metastatic melanoma and garnered a marketing deal worth up to $530 million with Bristol-Myers Squibb for the product. The company also signed a deal with Pfizer covering, among other things, the discovery and development of up to 50 antibodies over 10 years. That deal is valued at up to $510 million."

"It is a great honor for the Medarex team to be selected by our industry peers for this prestigious award," said Donald L. Drakeman, president and CEO of Medarex. "With 22 products based on our technology now in clinical trials, we look forward to further progress in clinical and corporate development."

International Winner: Genmab A/S

Genmab announced positive data from all five of its clinical programs in 2004, including obtaining Phase II proof-of-concept data for two products, HuMax-CD4 and the Amgen-partnered AMG-714, as well as promising Phase I/II data for HuMax-CD20, HuMax-EGFr and HuMax-Inflam. Genmab also received Fast Track designations for HuMax-CD4 and HuMax-CD20 from the FDA and obtained two orphan drug designations. On the financial front, the company raised a total of approximately US$100M, primarily through a successful follow-on offering, and the stock price appreciated by 96 percent during the year.

"The entire Genmab team worked with great dedication to achieve the milestones that led to the Helix Award. We are honored by this award and the recognition of our efforts by our peers. This will spur us on in our quest to bring important new treatments to the patients who are waiting for them," said Lisa N. Drakeman, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Genmab.

About the Long Island Life Sciences Initiative

LILSI is a not-for-profit trade association created to address issues of strategic importance to the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical device and life science technology-based industries. LILSI advocates on behalf of public policy that will improve the Long Island region's business climate for life science companies and enhance the research and business infrastructure that is vital to their success. More information on LILSI can be found at http://www.lilsi.org/.

About the Center for Biotechnology

The Center for Biotechnology, funded by the New York State Office of Science, Technology, & Academic Research, was established in 1983 as a cooperative research and development partnership between Stony Brook University, private industry, and New York State. Its goal has been to capitalize on the resources of New York's biomedical research institutions for the purpose of fueling economic growth in New York State. The Center's "bench- to-bedside" research programs have contributed to the development of several commercial products that have had a positive impact on human healthcare including ReoPro(TM), Periostate(R), and V3D Colon(TM) virtual colonoscopy, and catalyzed the creation of several new companies including Cornerstone Pharmaceuticals, STAR, Vitatex, and AcousticScan. Additional information on the Center can be found at http://www.biotech.sunysb.edu/.

About SUNY Stony Brook

SUNY Stony Brook has assumed an important role in the development of Long Island's biotechnology industry through its Center for Advanced Technology in Medical Biotechnology and the Long Island High Technology Incubator program. Collectively, they have supported the establishment of more than 70 high technology companies. Additional information on the university can be accessed at http://www.sunysb.edu/.

About BIO

BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and 31 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.

Biotechnology Industry Organization

CONTACT: Debbie Strickland of BIO, +1-202-962-9200

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