Chirocaine gets US green light

CELLTECH CHIROSCIENCE, the merged UK biotechnology group, has become the first UK biotech company to win approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for a major pharmaceutical product. The FDA has approved Chirocaine, a painkiller to be used mainly in childbirth and minor surgical procedures. The drug has already been approved in Sweden and other European countries are expected to make a decision on its approval by mid-2000.

Analysts expect Chirocaine to generate annual sales of pounds 100m to pounds 150m at its peak. Celltech Chiroscience's shares closed up 11p at 500p.