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3.  P R A E C I S   P H A R M A C E U T I C A L S    I N C .

Experiencing major growing pains

Questions about cancer drug send stock price into deep spiral

    Globe 100
  1. Clean Harbors
  2. Hologic
  3. NMT Medical
  4. DeWolfe
  5. Indevus Pharmaceuticals

  1. Sonus Networks
  2. Art Technology Group
  3. Praecis Pharmaceutical
  4. American Tower
  5. Dusa Pharmaceutical

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For a young biotechnology firm, Praecis was firing on all cylinders last year.

In the space of nine months, the Waltham firm had raised $260 million in two public stock offerings.

Collaborations with two major companies were bringing in revenues and moving drug candidates closer to the market. And Praecis had just moved to a new facility it had built in Waltham with the proceeds of its stock sales.

For the past year, though, there have been some strange noises coming from under the hood.

Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif., and Sanofi-Synthelabo SA, of France, both terminated their agreements to help develop Plenaxis, which is aimed at prostate cancer in men and endometriosis in women. The terminations, effective in December, took away Praecis's main source of revenue and the "Big Pharma" endorsement that had sent Praecis stock to $43.625 in August 2000 -- and had kept it above $25 for much of the first and second quarters last year.

Finally, the US Food and Drug Administration asked more questions about Plenaxis in June that will require additional clinical trials.

Recently, Praecis was trading a little above $3. For the 12-month period ended March 31, the shares were down almost 74 percent.

One hopeful sign: Praecis on May 10 said it had hired William K. Heiden as president and chief operating officer. He had been head of Schering-Plough's oncology/biotechnology business unit.


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