July 18, 2006

Akzo Nobel contraceptive implant approved

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch chemicals and healthcare group
Akzo Nobel NV said on Tuesday the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) had approved its contraceptive implant

The implant, which is inserted under the skin where it
releases a steady dose of hormones for three years, is already
available in more than 30 countries and has been used by more
than 2.5 million women worldwide, Akzo said in a statement.

Akzo said its human healthcare unit Organon would start
training U.S. doctors later this year on how to insert and
remove the implant, making Implanon more widely available in
the United States in 2007.

Only doctors trained to insert and remove the implant will
be able to prescribe the contraceptive to their patients.

An Organon spokeswoman said longer-term contraceptive
methods such as injections were already popular in the U.S.
market, so it saw good potential for its drug.

"It's the first contraceptive implant on the U.S. market,
so it's a new product, but it has a lot of benefits -- it gives
you three years of protection," the spokeswoman said.

"With an injectable, you still have to go back to the
health care professional every month or every three months."

Rabo Securities said in a note Implanon had accounted for
46 million euros ($57.7 million) of sales in 2005, equivalent
to 8 percent of contraceptive sales and 2 percent of Organon

Rabo analysts said they expected U.S. sales of Implanon to
peak at 100 million euros, adding the contraceptive was
contributing 300 million euros to Organon's value, which they
put at 8.6 billion euros.

Akzo plans to spin off its pharma activities this year or
next, and with a valuation of around 9 billion euros and 2005
sales of around 3.5 billion euros, Organon BioSciences would
make it into the top 20 of European pharma companies, analysts

Akzo shares fell 0.6 percent to 40.64 euros by 0848 GMT
compared with a 0.2 percent fall in the DJ Stoxx European
chemical sector index.