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Fujisawa Pharmaceutical Co. said Thursday it has concluded a contract with Sorin Biomedica Cardio SpA to license to the Italian firm its immunosuppressive drug-coated stents used for heart disease treatment.

The nonexclusive license allows Sorin to develop, produce and sell Fujisawa’s tacrolimus-eluting stents on a worldwide basis, the Osaka-based Fujisawa said.

Stents are used to hold tissue in place.

Sorin, a developer and maker of cardiovascular implantable devices, will start clinical tests of the stents in Europe to start their sale from around 2003.

According to Fujisawa, the global market for drug-coated stents, used to prevent restenosis in treating coronary occlusion and unstable angina, is estimated to reach 400 billion yen around 2005.

Fujisawa currently sells tacrolimus as the Prograf immunosuppressant used in transplantation and as Protopic for the treatment of atopic dermatitis.

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