- The Washington Times - Monday, March 10, 2003

DENVER, March 10 (UPI) — A legal squabble among companies making drugs that might prevent peanut food allergy incidents has halted large-scale studies of the medications, researchers said Monday.

Dr. Hugh Sampson, professor of pediatrics at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, said investigators earlier this year were ready to begin a large study of the drug TNX-901, which showed effectiveness in preventing life-threatening peanut allergy reactions. But because of the legal dispute over competing drugs those studies have been stalled indefinitely.

"About 125 deaths occur in the United States each year due to fatal peanut allergy reactions," Sampson said at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Dr. Donald Leung, head of pediatric allergy-immunology at National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, who conducted a preliminary study showing effectiveness in protecting people against the reactions said subjects in the original trial still will be able to receive the medication, which has to potential to change one's lifestyle for the better despite the dispute.

Sampson said TNX-901, which "soaks up" an overproduction of substances in the body that contribute to the allergic attacks in some people, will be available for those patients until July.

Sampson and Leung said the dispute involved Tanox — the maker of TNX-901 — and Genentech and Novartis, the co-developers of another similar compound, called omalizumab. Dr. Michael Schatz, a vice president of the AAAAI, said omalizumab likely will be approved for use in asthma, while Leung said TNX-901 likely would be used against food allergies.

Although both drugs combat high levels immunglobulin-E, or IgE, the body's chemical responsible for allergic sensitivity, Leung said there are differences between the two products and therefore it might not be possible to use the drugs interchangeably to combat various conditions.

The researchers would not elaborate on the details of the dispute. All three firms were partners in the development of anti-IgE drugs.

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