British Biotech was a British-based biotechnology company founded as British Biotechnology Limited in 1986 by former G D Searle managers Keith McCullagh and Brian Richards.[1] It was the first British biotech company to be publicly listed when it was floated on 1 July 1992.[2]

British Biotech plc
SuccessorVernalis plc
HeadquartersOxford, United Kingdom
Key people
Keith McCullagh, 1986–1998
Elliot Goldstein, 1998–2002
Tim Edwards, 2002–2003
Brian Richards, 1986–1998
Christopher Hampson, 1998–2002
Peter Fellner, 2002–2003
Number of employees

Controversy edit

In 1996, despite having no compounds on or near the market, the company was temporarily valued at nearly $2.5 billion,[3] largely on the basis of its two main development drugs: marimastat (a novel matrix metalloprotease inhibitor for cancer treatment[4]) and lexipafant (Zacutex, for pancreatitis). Batimastat (codename BB94) progressed as far as stage 3 in its clinical trial, although not orally bioavailable, there are other methods of administration, including transdermal.

In February 1998, Dr Andrew Millar was dismissed as Head of Clinical Research and went on to make allegations that "the Board were running a business plan consistent only with extreme and unfounded optimism".[5] These events were the subject of an inquiry by the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology in August 1998 which absolved Dr Millar of any responsibility for the company's problems.[5]

Subsequent investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Food and Drug Administration, London Stock Exchange and the European Medicines Evaluation Agency found that British Biotech had wilfully misled the public about the progress of marimastat[6] and that unblinding data before the end of clinical trials does not necessarily invalidate the results.[7] Marimastat underwent Phase III trials in collaboration with Schering-Plough Corporation.[8] Further development of Zacutex was abandoned due to poor clinical trial results.[9]

The corporate politics behind the downfall of British Biotech was later recorded for a BBC2 Series Blood on the Carpet.[10]

Disappearance edit

In 2003, British Biotech merged with RiboTargets and then into Vernalis Group. The British Biotech company name disappeared after this merger and remaining staff integrated into the new Vernalis plc organisation in Winnersh, Berkshire.

References edit

  1. ^ Rosen, Michael S. (2003). "The Final Death Knell of Chicago's G.D. Searle". Midwest Business. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2003.
  2. ^ "BBIOY IPO". IPO Summary Report. NEA. 1 December 1992. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 1 August 2006.
  3. ^ Hodgson, John (2006). "Ten years of biotech gaffes". Nature Biotechnology. Nature Publishing Group. 24 (3): 270–273. doi:10.1038/nbt0306-270. PMID 16525384. S2CID 560311. Retrieved 8 March 2006.
  4. ^ Wojtowicz-Praga S; Torri J; Johnson M; Steen V; Marshall J; Ness E; Dickson R; Sale M; Rasmussen HS; Chiodo TA; Hawkins MJ (1998). "Phase I trial of Marimastat". Journal of Clinical Oncology. American Society of Clinical Oncology. Archived from the original on 12 May 2005.
  5. ^ a b "Fifth Report". Select Committee on Science and Technology. House of Commons. 1998.
  6. ^ "British Biotech settles up". Nature Biotechnology. Nature Publishing Group. 1999.
  7. ^ Khan, Alex (1999). "Shedding Biotech's Bad Name". IP/IT Update. NIPC. Archived from the original on 27 October 2006.
  8. ^ "Marimastat Update". BusinessWire. 2001.
  9. ^ "Zacutex UK Phase III clinical data presented at American Gastroenterological Association". Select Committee on Science and Technology. House of Commons. 1998.
  10. ^ "BBC2's Blood on the Carpet". BBC. 2001.

External links edit