- The Washington Times - Friday, November 16, 2001

Maryland biotechnology company Meridian Medical Technologies Inc. has received orders for $6 million worth of nerve agent antidotes since the September 11 terrorist attacks, officials said yesterday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ordered the drugs from the Columbia company; the agency is expected to make the antidotes available to state and local police, fire and emergency medical personnel.

"I don't think we're playing any role to expand the market. We're simply responding to demand," said Meridian Chairman and Chief Executive Officer James H. Miller.

Meridian shares closed 6 percent higher on the Nasdaq Composite Index yesterday, up $1.01 to $17.63 a share. The stock has risen 47 percent since Sept. 10.

Meridian, which employs 342 persons, said it will fill the new orders by April.

The orders are for two drugs, atropine and pralidoxime chloride, that block the effects of chemical agents.

Meridian is the sole supplier of nerve agent antidotes to the U.S. government and NATO allies in Europe, the Far East and the Middle East. Military contracts account for nearly half of Meridian's sales.

Interest for the antidotes from state and local police, fire and emergency services personnel has developed since the September 11 attacks, Mr. Miller said.

"I think [the attacks] had an impact. People are building stockpiles now for a lot of things. You see it with drugs like Cipro," he said.

Meridian's drug delivery group also makes the EpiPen auto-injector, a syringe filled with the drug epinephrine that treats anaphylactic shock, an extreme, frequently fatal, allergy reaction. The syringe is its best-selling product, accounting for 50 percent of sales last year, Mr. Miller said.

Meridian also makes and markets an electrocardiac-mapping system to diagnose and treat heart disease.

Meridian reported $2.8 million in net income for fiscal 2001 ended July 31 on revenue of $58 million, up from $2.3 million in net income on revenue of $54.6 million a year earlier.


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