Avanir Pharmaceuticals Presents Data on Novel Anti-Cancer Compound; NCI to Conduct Further Tests

Data Presented at National Cancer Research Meeting

SAN DIEGO, Jul 14, 2003 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- Avanir Pharmaceuticals (Amex: AVN) said its experimental compound AVP-893 showed selective growth inhibition against a variety of cancer cell lines in pre-clinical testing and early compound screening performed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

The data, presented today at the 2003 Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), demonstrates that animal tumor models responded to AVP 893 or an analog with effects ranging from mild inhibition of growth to complete ablation of the tumor. In addition to its effect on the growth of the primary tumor, AVP-893 appears to inhibit metastatic spread of certain tumors.

Early compound screening by NCI suggests AVP-893 may represent a new class of anti-cancer drugs. Avanir's anti-cancer compounds appear to be unlike any existing drugs that have been screened by NCI for anti-cancer activity, either in terms of structure, tumor activity profile, or apparent mechanism of action.

Avanir's anti-cancer compounds have been accepted for further testing by NCI. If they continue to show clinical promise, Avanir will seek to out-license the compounds.

About AVP 893

AVP 893 is a novel drug molecule discovered by scientists at Avanir. The compound exhibits potent selective growth inhibitory activity against a variety of tumor cell lines in vitro. In-house and NCI-generated data shows the anti-growth activity to be concentrated in cell lines from skin (melanoma), blood (leukemia), breast, prostate, kidney, and brain. Resistant cell lines included lung (non-small cell), colon, and ovarian origins. Most of the animal tumor models responded to AVP 893 or an analog with activities ranging from a decline in growth to complete ablation of the tumor. Additionally, these compounds appear to inhibit metastatic spread of certain tumors.

Avanir believes AVP 893 and an as yet unnamed analog are structurally novel, based upon a comparison with more than 200,000 compounds in the National Cancer Institute (NCI) database. Activity profiles of the compounds have no apparent redundancy in the NCI 60-cell screen database, suggesting that Avanir's compounds act via a unique mechanism.

The abstract accepted for presentation at the 94th Anniversary AACR meeting will be published in the journal, Cancer Research.

About the Conference

The American Association for Cancer Research's (AACR) annual meeting attracts more than 15,000 laboratory and clinical scientists engaged in cancer research in the United States and abroad who share new and significant discoveries in the cancer field. AACR's mission is to accelerate the prevention and cure of cancer through research, education, communication and advocacy. Its principal activities include the publication of five major peer-reviewed scientific journals (Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention).

About the Company

Avanir Pharmaceuticals, based in San Diego, is a drug discovery and development company with a commercialized FDA-approved product (Abreva(R)) and products in clinical development for the treatment of pseudobulbar affect (Phase III), neuropathic pain (Phase II), and allergy and asthma (Phase I). Avanir is engaged in small-molecule research to develop treatments for central nervous system disorders and inflammatory diseases. Through the use of its Xenerex(TM) technology, Avanir also develops human monoclonal antibodies for infectious diseases and other therapeutic applications. Further information about Avanir can be found at www.avanir.com .

The information contained in this press release, including any forward-looking statements contained herein, should be reviewed in conjunction with the Company's most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and other publicly available information regarding the Company. Copies of such information are available from the company upon request. Such publicly available information sets forth many risks and uncertainties related to the Company's business and technology. Forward-looking statements often contain such words like "estimate," "anticipate," "believe," "plan" or "expect." Our anti-cancer program competes with other research approaches and compounds under development by large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Pre-clinical research findings are not always supported by evidence obtained from subsequent clinical trials. Final review decisions made by the FDA and other regulatory agencies concerning clinical trial results are unpredictable and outside the influence and/or control of the Company.

SOURCE Avanir Pharmaceuticals

For Investors
Thomas Redington of Redington, Inc.,
For Avanir
For Media
Vince Heald of Beck Ellman Heald
for Avanir
or Patrice Saxon, Investor Relations of Avanir Pharmaceuticals
858-622-5202, psaxon@avanir.com