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British Biotech

British Biotech plc
Fate Merged
Successorcompany merged into Vernalis
Founded 1986
Defunct 2003
Location Oxford, United Kingdom
Key peopleCEO
Keith McCullagh, 1986-1998
Elliot Goldstein, 1998-2002
Tim Edwards, 2002-2003
Brian Richards, 1986-1998
Christopher Hampson, 1998-2002
Peter Fellner, 2002-2003
Peak size500 employees

British Biotech was a British based biotech company.

British Biotechnology Limited was founded in 1986 by former G D Searle managers Keith McCullagh and Brian Richards, [1] and was the first British biotechnology company to be publicly listed when it was floated on July 1 1992 [2]

In 1996, despite having no compounds on or near the market, it was temporarily valued at nearly $2.5 billion [3], largely on the basis of its two main development drugs, marimastat (a novel matrix metalloprotease inhibitor for cancer treatment [4]) and zacutex (for pancreatitis).

In February 1998, Dr Andrew Millar was dismissed as Head of Clinical Research and went on to make allegations that "the Board were running a business plan consistent only with extreme and unfounded optimism" .[5] These events were the subject of an inquiry by the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology in August 1998 which absolved Dr Millar of any responsibility for the company’s problems.[5] Subsequent investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Food and Drug Administration, London Stock Exchange and the European Medicines Evaluation Agency found that British Biotech had willfully misled the public about the progress of marimastat [6] and that unblinding data before the end of clinical trials does not necessarily invalidate the results.[7] Marimastat underwent Phase III trials in collaboration with Schering-Plough Corporation.[8] Further development of zacutex was abandoned due to poor clinical trial results.[9] The corporate politics behind the downfall of British Biotech was later recorded for a BBC2 Series "Blood on The Carpet".[10]

In 2003, British Biotech merged with RiboTargets and then into Vernalis. The British Biotech company name disappeared after this merger and remaining staff integrated into the Vernalis organisation in Winnersh, Berkshire.


  1. ^ The Final Death Knell of Chicago’s G.D. Searle (HTML). Midwest Business (2003). Retrieved on 12 May, 2003.
  2. ^ BBIOY IPO (HTML). IPO Summary Report. NEA (1992). Retrieved on 1 December, 1992.
  3. ^ Ten years of biotech gaffes (HTML). Nature Biotechnology. Nature Publishing Group (2006). Retrieved on 8 March, 2006.
  4. ^ Phase I trial of Marimastat (HTML). Journal of Clinical Oncology. American Society of Clinical Oncology (1998). Retrieved on 16 June, 1998.
  5. ^ a b Fifth Report (HTML). Select Committee on Science and Technology. House of Commons (1998). Retrieved on 13 August, 1998.
  6. ^ Nature Biotechnology (HTML). Nature Biotechnology. Nature Publishing Group (1999). Retrieved on 18 July, 1999.
  7. ^ Shedding Biotech’s Bad Name (HTML). IP/IT Update. NIPC (1999). Retrieved on 15 February, 1999.
  8. ^ Marimastat Update (HTML). BusinessWire (2001). Retrieved on 2 May, 2001.
  9. ^ Zacutex UK Phase III clinical data presented at American Gastroenterological Association (HTML). Select Committee on Science and Technology. House of Commons (1998). Retrieved on 14 September, 1998.
  10. ^ BBC2's Blood on the Carpet (HTML). BBC (2001).
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "British_Biotech". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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