Japanese, Molecular Bio Sign $31-Million Marketing Deal

Times Staff Writer

Molecular Biosystems has signed over marketing rights for its Albunex product in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan to Shionogi & Co., one of Japan’s largest pharmaceutical concerns, in a deal valued at $31 million, the firms said Monday.

Molecular Biosystems will receive $10 million of that total when the agreement is executed. This is the third distribution agreement signed by Molecular Biosystems in recent months.

Earlier, San Diego-based Molecular Biosystems signed over U. S. distribution rights to Mallinckrodt Inc., a St. Louis-based division of International Minerals and Chemicals. That deal could eventually be worth $60 million in revenue for Molecular Biosystems, which retained manufacturing rights in the United States.

Molecular Biosystems also has signed over marketing and distribution rights for Europe to Nycomed, a Norwegian pharmaceuticals firm. Molecular Biosystems valued that deal at $18 million.


Albunex is an imaging agent that is injected into patients to improve results of ultrasound testing, a widely used diagnostic imaging technique. The imaging agent now is in clinical testing in the United States, with approval expected in fiscal 1991, said David Pritchard, a spokesman for the firm.

Molecular Biosystems already has begun preaching the benefits of imaging agents to doctors and hospitals around the world, Pritchard said.

“In the most recent agreement the $10 million up front will help us with the educational process,” Pritchard said. Molecular Biosystems hopes to educate doctors and clinicians about the benefits of using an imaging agent during ultrasound examinations.

Molecular Biosystems hopes that Albunex will become the first non-radioactive imaging agent to allow cardiologists to use ultrasound imaging to view blood flowing through the heart. “Clinicians out there are already using ultrasound to do some 4 to 6 million heart studies every year,” Pritchard said.

Molecular Biosystems was attracted to Shionogi because “they’re every bit as aggressive as we are,” Pritchard said. “They’re the leader in Japan for pharmaceutical marketing, with 1,500 detailers. That’s the largest detail force in Japan.”