Investors made a quick call on Friday on the likely impact a move by Schering AG on beta interferon would have on Chiron Corp. and Biogen Inc., sending BGEN up and CHIR down. But it's not clear that the impact on either will be very great.

BGEN (Cambridge, Mass.) was up $5.50 to $54.75, while CHIR lost $1.375 to $60.

Schering (Berlin) and Dr. Rentschler Arzneimittel GmbH & Co. (Laupheim, Germany) agreed to develop, produce and market genetically engineered beta interferon produced in a mammalian system, Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells.

The deal, which set analysts scrambling to decipher the implications for beta interferon rivals CHIR and BGEN, was a fitting teaser for the anticipated presentation today of BGEN's Phase III data in multiple sclerosis.

Under the agreement, Schering will market the beta interferon worldwide, and Rentschler will produce the beta interferon and retain co-marketing rights in Germany. Schering has North American production rights.

Other indications

Through its Berlex unit, Schering markets CHIR's Betaseron beta interferon, which is produced in E. coli, for relapsing/remitting multiple sclerosis. Schering said it has no plans to test the CHO-derived beta interferon in multiple sclerosis.