AVANIR Pharmaceuticals Expands Management Team; Vice President of Corporate Development Added to Implement Licensing Strategy

SAN DIEGO, Aug 21, 2002 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- AVANIR Pharmaceuticals (Amex: AVN), a biopharmaceutical drug discovery and development company with a commercialized FDA-approved product on the market, announced today that Martin Emanuele, Ph.D. has joined the Company in the newly created position of Vice President of Corporate Development. Dr. Emanuele will develop and implement strategies for building and supporting AVANIR's technologies though partnerships and licensing.

Prior to joining AVANIR, Dr. Emanuele was the Vice President of Research and Business Development at CytRx Corporation. While in this position Dr. Emanuele developed and executed multi-million dollar worldwide product and technology license agreements with major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies such as Merck, American Home Products, Glaxo-Wellcome and Vical. Dr. Emanuele holds a Ph.D. in Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics from Loyola University of Chicago and has over fifteen years of research and business development experience in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

"Dr. Emanuele brings strong acquisition and partnering experience to this newly created position at AVANIR," said Gerald J. Yakatan, Ph.D., AVANIR's President and Chief Executive Officer "His experience, knowledge and relationships in the pharmaceutical industry will contribute greatly to the implementation of our strategy of building value through the partnering of our platform technologies. We are pleased to have Martin on board as we build our product portfolio through the drug discovery, development and licensing processes."

AVANIR has several drug development programs that are at or near the stage where they should be attractive candidates for partnering or licensing. Those programs include Neurodex for the treatment of neuropathic pain, currently in a Phase II dose ranging study in patients with diabetic neuropathy. Additionally, AVANIR is in the advanced pre-clinical stage with an orally bioavailable compound that selectively inhibits the body's production of IgE, the primary cause of allergy and asthma. AVANIR is also in the pre-clinical stage on an innovative therapy for the treatment of inflammatory diseases that inhibits the activity of macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF). MIF is a protein that plays a central role in inflammation pathways and is a potential drug target in a variety of diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, colitis, asthma and sepsis. The Company's strategy is to increase the value of the drug development pipeline by steadily advancing the clinical development process and partnering when the research has been validated by Phase I or Phase II data.

"I am pleased to join AVANIR during this exciting time as the Company establishes its clinical and pre-clinical drug discovery and development pipeline and seeks to expand its docosanol franchise internationally. It is unusual for one company to have both an extensive small molecule pipeline as well as a subsidiary with human antibody discovery platform technology. The fact that this Company has both and has successfully commercialized its first product with one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies is very compelling to me," said Dr. Emanuele.

AVANIR Pharmaceuticals, based in San Diego, is a biopharmaceutical drug discovery and development company with a commercialized FDA-approved product on the market. AVANIR is engaged in research, discovery, development and licensing of innovative drug products and, through its subsidiary Xenerex Biosciences, antibody generation services.

Matters discussed in this press release contain forward-looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such statements. Statements that are not historical facts, including statements that are preceded by, followed by, or that include such words like "estimate," "anticipate," "believe," "plan" or "expect" or similar statements are forward-looking statements. Risks and uncertainties include risks associated with product discovery and development as well as risks shown in AVANIR's most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and quarterly report on Form 10-Q and from time-to-time in other publicly available information regarding the companies. Copies of such information are available from AVANIR upon request. Such publicly available information sets forth many risks and uncertainties related to AVANIR's business and technology and licensing and development strategies.

For further information, please contact General Information, Kristen McNally, +1-310-407-6548, kmcnally@webershandwick.com, or Analyst/Investor, Tricia Ross, +1-310-407-6540, tross@webershandwick.com, or Media, Tim Grace, +1-312-640-6667, tgrace@webershandwick.com, all of FRB Weber Shandwick, for AVANIR Pharmaceuticals; or Patrice Saxon, Investor Relations of AVANIR Pharmaceuticals, +1-858-622-5202, psaxon@AVANIR.com.

SOURCE AVANIR Pharmaceuticals

CONTACT:
General Information, Kristen McNally, +1-310-407-6548,
kmcnally@webershandwick.com, or Analyst/Investor, Tricia Ross,
+1-310-407-6540, tross@webershandwick.com, or Media, Tim Grace,
+1-312-640-6667, tgrace@webershandwick.com, all of FRB Weber Shandwick, for
AVANIR Pharmaceuticals; or Patrice Saxon, Investor Relations of AVANIR
Pharmaceuticals, +1-858-622-5202, psaxon@AVANIR.com
(AVN)

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