AVANIR Pharmaceuticals Signs Collaborative Research and Development Agreement With Chinese Pharmaceutical Company

Agreement Is Significant Step Toward Marketing Docosanol in China

SAN DIEGO, Jan 16, 2002 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- AVANIR Pharmaceuticals (Amex: AVN) announced today the signing of a collaborative research and development agreement with Shanghai New Asiatic Pharmaceutical Company, Ltd., a division of Shanghai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., the largest state-owned pharmaceutical conglomerate in the People's Republic of China. The agreement is considered a preliminary step in the process toward marketing AVANIR's docosanol 10% cream in the People's Republic of China, including Hong Kong and Macau, for the treatment of cold sores and other topical viral indications.

"This collaboration is the first step in forging a relationship with a leading Chinese pharmaceutical company, Shanghai New Asiatic Pharmaceutical Company, a pioneer in that market," said Gerald J. Yakatan, Ph.D., AVANIR's Chief Executive Officer and President. "The competitive landscape in the People's Republic of China is ripe for new entrants, especially for effective over-the-counter treatments. We look forward to developing a solid partnership and to the prospect of tapping into the vast potential we believe exists in that region of the world."

There are approximately 1.3 billion people in the People's Republic of China. As in other parts of the world, potentially 80% of the population carries the virus that causes cold sores. Approximately 20% or roughly 260 million people will have outbreaks of at least one cold sore episode per year. Historically, cold sores have not been treated in China except with the use of herbal products. "AVANIR's China initiative could open the door to many new opportunities to access this market, potentially the largest pharmaceutical market in the world," said Dr. Ming-Wei Wang of SiniWest Holdings, Inc. who facilitated this deal.

Under the collaborative research and development agreement, Shanghai New Asiatic Pharmaceutical Company will be exploring other indications or uses for AVANIR's docosanol 10% cream beyond cold sores and fever blisters. These additional indications include genital herpes or HSV-2 and herpes zoster, also known as shingles. Terms of the agreement provide for Shanghai New Asiatic to conduct and finance all aspects of product development deemed necessary for regulatory approvals for all three indications. AVANIR will provide all pertinent clinical, pre-clinical, regulatory and manufacturing information, along with related know-how and assistance, for Shanghai New Asiatic's product development and regulatory efforts. AVANIR will retain sole and exclusive title to all products that may be developed within the scope of the agreement.

"After having gone through the challenges and changes of the past 70 years, we have built Shanghai New Asiatic into a modern and multiple-placing base for pharmaceutical products in accordance with the operations of the modern enterprise system and the standards of current good manufacturing practices (cGMP)," said Mr. Hong Yi Bian, Vice President of Shanghai New Asiatic. "Our motto is 'Quality Creates Value, Innovation Builds the Future,' which is our way of conveying our belief that well known brands are an enterprise's soul, while quality is its life. In conjunction with that, we look forward to working with AVANIR Pharmaceuticals on this new collaboration."

Established in 1926, Shanghai New Asiatic Pharmaceutical Company is one of the pioneers of the pharmaceutical industry in China and has evolved into a modern company with five joint venture and holding company relationships with pharmaceutical companies throughout China and the world. Shanghai New Asiatic currently manufactures and markets 120 products in China. Shanghai New Asiatic is a division of the Shanghai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., the largest state-owned pharmaceutical conglomerate in China, with vast experience in working with multi-national companies. The parent company, Shanghai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., has over 45 major joint ventures with various multi-national pharmaceutical companies and is in the forefront in distributing new pharmaceutical products to the People's Republic of China.

AVANIR Pharmaceuticals, based in San Diego, is a diversified biopharmaceutical company with an FDA-approved drug currently on the market. AVANIR is engaged in research, development, commercialization, licensing and sales of innovative drug products and antibody generation services. The Company's website is 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 Annual Report on Form 10-K, as amended, and other publicly available information regarding the Company, copies of which are available from the Company upon request. Such publicly available information sets forth many risks and uncertainties related to the Company's business and such statements, including such risks and uncertainties related to drug development and clinical trials. The Company can give no assurances that they will reach a definitive agreement with a pharmaceutical company to license the rights to market docosanol in the Asian market. Regulatory approvals and market acceptance for drug products is unpredictable and substantially outside of the influence and/or control of the Company.

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CONTACT:          General Information, Kristen McNally, +1-310-407-6548, or
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                  +1-310-407-6554, or lmueller@webershandwick.com, all of FRB Weber Shandwick,
                  for AVANIR Pharmaceuticals; or Patrice Saxon, Investor Relations of AVANIR
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URL:              http://www.avanir.com 
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