Open Access Articles- Top Results for British Biotech

British Biotech

British Biotech plc
Industry Biotechnology
Fate Merged
Successor company merged into Vernalis
Founded 1986
Defunct 2003
Headquarters Oxford, United Kingdom
Key people
Keith McCullagh, 1986–1998
Elliot Goldstein, 1998–2002
Tim Edwards, 2002–2003
Brian Richards, 1986–1998
Christopher Hampson, 1998–2002
Peter Fellner, 2002–2003
Number of employees

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


In 1996, despite having no compounds on or near the market, the company 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 wilfully 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.

External links


  1. ^ Michael S. Rosen (2003). "The Final Death Knell of Chicago's G.D. Searle". Midwest Business. Retrieved 12 May 2003.  Missing |last1= in Authors list (help)[dead link]
  2. ^ "BBIOY IPO". IPO Summary Report. NEA. 1992. Retrieved 1 December 1992.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  3. ^ John Hodgson (2006). "Ten years of biotech gaffes". Nature Biotechnology. Nature Publishing Group. Retrieved 8 March 2006.  Missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  4. ^ Wojtowicz-Praga S, Torri J, Johnson M, Steen V, Marshall J, Ness E, Dickson R, Sale M, Rasmussen HS, Chiodo TA, Hawkins MJ. (1998). "Phase I trial of Marimastat". Journal of Clinical Oncology. American Society of Clinical Oncology. Retrieved 16 June 1998.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  5. ^ a b "Fifth Report". Select Committee on Science and Technology. House of Commons. 1998. Retrieved 13 August 1998.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  6. ^ "Nature Biotechnology". Nature Biotechnology. Nature Publishing Group. 1999. Retrieved 18 July 1999.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  7. ^ Alex Khan (1999). "Shedding Biotech's Bad Name". IP/IT Update. NIPC. Retrieved 15 February 1999.  Missing |last1= in Authors list (help); Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  8. ^ "Marimastat Update". BusinessWire. 2001. Retrieved 2 May 2001. 
  9. ^ "Zacutex UK Phase III clinical data presented at American Gastroenterological Association". Select Committee on Science and Technology. House of Commons. 1998. Retrieved 14 September 1998.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  10. ^ "BBC2's Blood on the Carpet". BBC. 2001. Retrieved 2001.