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Pfizer subscribes to Gene Logic database; Drug firm to have access to tissue archive facts


Gene Logic Inc. said yesterday that drug giant Pfizer Inc. has become a subscriber to its Internet database of genetic information.

Specific financial terms and duration of the deal were not disclosed, but Pfizer will have access to part of the Gaithersburg companys GeneExpress archive of human and animal tissue information.

Pfizer, a large pharmaceuticals company based in New York, will be able to study information on ToxExpress, one of three parts or modules of GeneExpress.

The tissue samples are frozen and handled by Gene Logic. What Pfizer and other subscribers get is online access to data on the physical characteristics of the person or animal from which the tissue is drawn, as well as information on the effects of toxins.

Its really sort of a validation of the content were generating, said Gene Logic spokesman Robert Burrows. We feel it will impact [Pfizers] ability to get drugs to the marketplace faster, and to make them safer and more reliable.

Pfizer will pay Gene Logic fixed annual fees for two to five years. Burrows said a subscriber would typically pay $5 million a year for three years of full access to GeneExpress. Because Pfizer is subscribing to only one part of GeneExpress, it is paying a smaller sum.

Pfizer is the third subscriber to GeneExpress; the other two are Therapeutic Genomics and a pharmaceutical company whose name has not been revealed.

Lyle Schonberger, an analyst with Olde Discount/H & R Block in Detroit, said pharmaceutical heavyweights Merck & Co. Inc. and SmithKline Beecham PLC had struck similar deals with biotechnology companies in the past, giving Pfizer an incentive to seek access to Gene Logics trove of data.

Schonberger said that for Pfizer, the agreement with Gene Logic is a good way to augment the long-term product pipeline.

In a separate announcement, Gene Logic reported its earnings for the fourth quarter and the year, showing increases in revenue and a continuation of losses.

For the quarter, which ended Dec. 31, Gene Logic had a net loss of $5.9 million, or 29 cents per share. In the corresponding period of the previous year, the net loss was $3.5 million, 18 cents per share.

On the year, Gene Logic had a net loss of $20.6 million, $1.04 per share. This was less than half the red ink spilled in 1998, when the company had a net loss of $44.9 million, $2.86 per share.

As for revenue, Gene Logic had quarterly sales of $5.7 million, up 24.5 percent from the $4.6 million taken in during the final three months of 1998. Yearly revenue was $19.2 million, 45.5 percent more than 1998s $13.2 million.

Gene Logics stock rose $1.6875 yesterday, closing at $114 a share.

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