Hoechst Dumps RU-486

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PARIS: Bowing to boycott threats from American anti-abortion groups, European pharmaceutical giant Hoechst transferred non-U.S. patent rights to the abortion pill RU-486 to one of the doctors who invented it. Although Edouard Sakiz, who headed Roussel Uclaf, the company that lead the development of RU-486 before it was acquired by Hoechst, will market the drug worldwide through a new company, he said he will not do business in the U.S. Once the drug wins approval, it will be distributed by The Population Council, a New York-based non-profit that received the U.S. patent from Roussel-Uclaf in 1994. According to a Hoechst representative, the pressure applied by the groups made continued ownership of the patents potentially disastrous in an international market place. Last week's threatened boycott by the Washington-based National Right to Life Committee of Hoechst's flagship antihistamine medication, Allegra, may have been the final straw.