Roche and Medivir Invest in New Virology Program and Restructure Existing HIV Collaboration

Huddinge, SWEDEN


HUDDINGE, Sweden, Nov. 19, 2003 (PRIMEZONE) -- Roche and Medivir announced today a new research agreement in the area of hepatitis C (HCV) and the restructuring of their current alliance in the area of HIV. Regarding the ongoing agreement signed in April 2002, Medivir will assume responsibility for MV026048, a compound currently in development for the treatment of HIV, and Roche will provide guidance while retaining an opportunity to opt in to the program at a later date. In the new collaboration, the partners will embark on a joint research program to discover novel inhibitor compounds for the treatment of hepatitis C infections.

"In the hepatitis C area, Roche is an ideal partner for Medivir. The generous research support means that Medivir can further enhance its competence and expand its pipeline without increasing the net costs of its research," said Lars Adlersson, CEO of Medivir. "Under the restructured HIV-agreement, Medivir will be contributing its expertise, in resolving current challenges we are facing with the early stage HIV development candidate, MV026048. We are willing to make this limited investment in order to gain an even bigger stake in this exciting HIV project."

"Roche has a proven track record with successful HCV compounds such as Pegasys and Copegus as well as HIV compounds like Fuzeon," stated Williams M. Burns, Roche's Head of Pharmaceuticals. "Expanding our partnership with Medivir is an example of how Roche is strategically selecting and restructuring partnerships where innovative therapies could lead to new treatments. Our decision to further our relationship with Medivir reflects our strong commitment to existing partners, and to building a robust HIV and HCV portfolio."

Terms of the Agreement

In April 2002, Medivir granted Roche exclusive development and worldwide marketing rights, except in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, to MV026048 for HIV. Roche will retain the right to opt in to this ongoing program, while providing Medivir with development guidance and know-how. Should Roche exercise this option, the sum of future payments to Medivir will increase, as compared to the original agreement.

Additionally, Medivir and Roche will collaborate on a new research program for HCV. As in the first agreement, Medivir will retain the right to market HCV products in the Nordic countries. Furthermore, due to the existing relationship between the parties, Roche will provide financial support for this program and make milestone and royalties payments to Medivir.

Roche in HCV

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that chronically infects an estimated 2.7 million Americans. The virus is a leading cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer and is the number-one reason for liver transplants in the U.S. Roche's Pegasys, a pegylated alpha interferon, and Copegus were approved by the FDA in December 2002 for use in combination for the treatment of adults with chronic hepatitis C who have compensated liver disease and have not previously been treated with interferon alpha. Efficacy was demonstrated in patients with compensated liver disease and histological evidence of cirrhosis.

Roche Business Development and Alliance Strategy Roche is a distinctive alliance partner with expertise in identifying cutting-edge innovation that can lead to new and improved medicines. Since January 2002, Roche has formed over 50 new partnerships which span a wide range of therapeutic areas and technologies, making it an industry leader. Through its alliance strategy, Roche creates value with its partners by transforming these business transactions into productive relationships that allow for mutual growth and expansion. As evidence of this development plan, in the past eight months, Roche and its partners have renewed or broadened nine ongoing alliances. Roche is committed to an alliance strategy that enables its partners to achieve their vision while maintaining their cultural identity and entrepreneurial spirit.

About Roche

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is one of the world's leading innovation-driven healthcare groups. Its core businesses are pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Roche is number one in the global diagnostics market, the leading supplier of pharmaceuticals for cancer and a leader in virology and transplantation. As a supplier of products and services for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, the Group contributes on a broad range of fronts to improving people's health and quality of life. Roche employs roughly 65,000 people in 150 countries. The Group has alliances and R&D agreements with numerous partners, including majority ownership interests in Genentech and Chugai.

About Medivir

Medivir is an innovative, specialist research company that develops pharmaceuticals. The company is located in Huddinge, Sweden and Cambridge, UK. Medivir's research is focused on developing new drug compounds based on proteases and polymerases as target enzymes. Medivir was floated on the Stockholm Exchange in 1996, and has been quoted on the Attract 40 list since 1 July 2003.

Medivir's research portfolio includes projects against HIV, jaundice, shingles, cold sores, osteoporosis, RA (rheumatoid arthritis), asthma and MS (multiple sclerosis). Medivir has five projects in clinical development phases, two of which are about to enter phase III after completing phase II. Two projects are in phase I and one is in phase II. One project-MV026048-is in preclinical development, the stage closest to clinical development. The optimization stage has three projects, the lead identification stage encompasses two projects. Medivir has some ten activities in the first preclinical-explorative- stage.

For information, access our website at www.Medivir.se.

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