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Triton’s Pharmaceuticals Business Sold to Schering

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Triton Biosciences Inc. said Friday that its pharmaceuticals business will be sold to Schering AG, a Berlin-based pharmaceuticals company with worldwide marketing that is trying to increase its presence in biotechnology.

Alameda-based Triton, a unit of Houston-based Shell Oil Co., is not strictly a biotechnology company, but much of its research and development is based on biotechnology. It does not yet have a product on the market, but Schering cited Triton’s promising drugs under development as a reason it agreed to the acquisition.

Triton will keep its diagnostic testing business.

The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but analysts said Shell had been seeking at least $200 million. Schering said it will make payments to Shell based on the commercial success of two Triton products under development.

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Last week, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended approval of Triton’s biotechnology-based cancer chemotherapy drug Fludara IV. The company is ready to submit for FDA approval its Betaseron drug for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and various types of cancer, said Janice Wohltmann, vice president of Triton’s pharmaceuticals business.

“That’s one of the reasons Schering was interested. This gives them the opportunity to develop an oncology (cancer treatment) business. It gives us an opportunity to develop our drugs worldwide. Because we are a small company, we have focused on the U.S. and Canada,” Wohltmann said.

By combining its traditional research and development in Germany with Triton’s biotechnology approaches, Schering said it “expects to make cancer therapeutics available to patients more rapidly.”

The Triton purchase is Schering’s second biotechnology purchase in the San Francisco Bay Area. In May, it bought South San Francisco-based Codon.

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