H3 Pharma announces promising developments for the treatment of Alzheimer´s disease

Montreal, June 21, 2002 – H3 Pharma, a Montreal-based pharmaceutical development company, announced today that ZT-1, a highly potent inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase currently under development for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, has started first-in-man clinical trials.

Five men and five women aged 65 years or older were administered ZT-1 in Marchat a specialised clinic in Utrecht, The Netherlands, with excellent initial tolerability results. This study will be followed by a second Phase I clinical trial geared toward indirectly demonstrating the efficacy of ZT-1 in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

ZT-1 is a patented drug being developed by Debiopharm in Switzerland in conjunction with H3 Pharma in Canada. It was discovered by the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in the People’s Republic of China, and is derived from Huperzine A, which is known to be a reversible, highly selective acetylcholinesterase inhibitor and has demonstrated memory-enhancing effects in elderly patients and patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. ZT-1 will be developed as a slow-release formulation, thus answering the critical need for a long-acting drug that will still be effective in the elderly population where compliance is often an issue. H3 Pharma has the North American commercial rights for ZT-1.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disease and the leading cause of dementia. Approximately $5.5 billion a year is spent treating and caring for people with the disease and related dementias in Canada. Alzheimer’s disease is marked by loss of memory, judgment and reasoning, and changes in mood and behaviour. It is not known what causes the disease, which is not considered a natural part of the normal aging process. There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

About H3 Pharma
H3 Pharma is a Montreal-based pharmaceutical products development company based on a unique “Venture Pharma” model. H3 Pharma develops, registers innovative therapeutic formulations and licences them out to big Pharma for commercialization. Its focus is on age-related disorders. The success of H3 Pharma lies in its international team of pharmaceutical experts and global research network, that allows it to identify and bring new treatment opportunities to the global marketplace.

H3 Pharma identifies promising new opportunities for development through its international networking and a proprietary data-mining platform that identifies, tracks and organises global research by therapeutic area. Researchers from around the world are encouraged to submit their discoveries for evaluation, where each one undergoes evaluation using medical informatics methods to rapidly select candidates most likely to succeed, based on specific criteria. Successful candidates then undergo a second review by an international scientific committee, before being brought into development on a world-wide basis.

Since its inception last year, H3 Pharma has investigated over two hundred fifty projects for potential development using these methods. H3 Pharma currently has three different drugs in six different therapeutic indications in various stages of development, and many more promising medical innovations currently under evaluation. Although international in scope, the Montreal company is committed to using local resources to fuel its drug development process.

H3 Pharma is well capitalised and is funded through the international collaborative efforts of Debio Group of Switzerland, lead by Dr. Rolland-Yves Mauvernay, and SGF Health, a division of Société Générale de Financement du Quebec. Together, they have independently demonstrated an impressive and proven expertise in efficient and successful pharmaceutical product development and biotechnology business development.

About the Debio companies
Debiopharm, Debio R.P. and Debioclinic, based in Lausanne and Martigny, Switzerland and Paris, France are an established and proven group of three synergistic and complementary companies, that has a successful track record in developing, registering and bringing to the market new chemical entities both in Europe and in the United States. Products successfully registered and launched include oxaliplatin for advanced colorectal cancer and triptorelin pamoate for prostate cancer, both market leaders in their therapeutic areas. Specialized in oncology, hormonal and niche products for serious medical conditions, Debiopharm is a partner of research institutions; pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies who seek to develop and register their drugs. Debio R.P., Debiopharm’s sister company, is a leading world player in the research, development and manufacturing of polymer-based controlled release injectable formulations for peptides and proteins, including proprietary technologies suitable for other therapeutic modalities such as soluble polymer cytotoxic-drug conjugates for parenteral administration. Debio R.P. also carries out scale-up under current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) and has an FDA-inspected plant. Debioclinic, the third Debio Company, is fully dedicated to clinical development.

About SGF
SGF Santé is a subsidiary of Société générale de financement du Québec, whose mission is to implement economic development projects in cooperation with partners and under normal profitability conditions. Since its restructuring in 1998, SGF has generated investments of nearly $7.5 billion and created over 19,400 direct and indirect jobs in projects that carried through to the operational phase, in addition to the thousands of jobs during the construction phase. As of December 31, 2001, SGF’s consolidated assets exceeded $3 billion. SGF has 57 international partners with places of business in Quebec www.sgfqc.com

For additional information on Alzheimer’s disease please contact or visit
The Alzheimer’s Society of Canada
20 Eglinton Ave. W., Ste. 1200
Toronto, ON M4R 1K8

Tel: (416) 488-8772
Toll-free: 1-800-616-8816 (valid only in Canada)
Fax: (416)488-3778
E-mail: info@alzheimer.ca
Web: www.alzheimer.ca