December 22, 2008 / 8:54 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-Epix's imaging agent gets FDA nod, shares soar

Dec 22 (Reuters) - Epix Pharmaceuticals Inc (EPIX.O) more than tripled in market value, after the company said its imaging agent for magnetic resonance angiography was approved by U.S. health regulators.

The company said intravascular contrast agent Vasovist, which is marketed in 34 countries outside the United States, was approved for use in detecting narrow or blocked blood vessels carrying oxygenated blood from the heart.

“Our strategy remains to monetize this asset and we believe these characteristics and market dynamics make Vasovist an appealing opportunity for a company interested in building or augmenting its competitive position in the imaging market,” Epix’s Interim Chief Executive Elkan Gamzu said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been concerned about side effects with contrast imaging agents and earlier called for warnings after hundreds of reports of complications, including deaths.

In June, it sought advice from an advisory panel, which called on companies to collect additional data for those already on the market.

On Dec. 10, a FDA advisory panel had rejected Acusphere Inc’s ACUS.O imaging contrast agent Imagify, saying possible risks outweighed its potential for screening heart patients.

Epix shares soared 65 cents to 97 cents in afternoon trade on Nasdaq. The stock had plunged 93 percent since January before Monday’s gains. (Reporting by Vidya L Nathan in Bangalore; Editing by Deepak Kannan)

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