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Vernalis Plc Initiates a Phase I Trial of a Promising New Approach to Treating Obesity and Related Disorders - Including Type II Diabetes

11 December 2006

WINNERSH, U.K., December 11, 2006 -- Vernalis plc (LSE: VER, Nasdaq: VNLS) today announced that it has started a Phase I trial of V24343, a CB1 antagonist, as a potential treatment for obesity, type II diabetes and related disorders.

Cannabinoid type 1 receptors, (CB1) are widely expressed both in peripheral tissues involved in lipid and glucose metabolism and in the brain regions controlling appetite. Blockade of these receptors by selective CB1 receptor antagonists causes weight loss and ameliorates risk factors for obesity related disorders such as cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes. The efficacy of CB1 receptor antagonists in the treatment of obesity, type II diabetes and associated disorders has been clinically demonstrated in recent trials of Rimonabant.

Simon Sturge, CEO of Vernalis commented:

“There are only two drugs approved in the United States for long-term treatment of obesity; both of which are limited by side effects. The knowledge that CB1 antagonists reduce weight and have the capability to improve glucose control in diabetics has led to this promising new approach. Prevalence of obesity in the US and Europe has reached epidemic levels and there is a clear opportunity for an effective and well-tolerated anti-obesity drug.”

The Phase I double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled study in overweight and mildly obese volunteers will be conducted in two parts; a single ascending dose followed by a multiple ascending dose and is expected to complete in mid-2007. The primary objectives of the Phase I programme are to evaluate the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of single and multiple doses of V24343; however, having overweight and mildly obese subjects in the trial ensures that the evaluation of V24343 is carried out in clinically relevant subjects.

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Enquiries:  
   
Vernalis plc +44 (0) 118 977 3133
Simon Sturge, Chief Executive Officer  
John Hutchison, Development Director  
Julia Wilson, Head of Corporate Communications  
   
Brunswick Group +44 (0) 20 7404 5959
Jon Coles  
Justine McIlroy  
   
Lazar Partners Ltd  
Gregory Gin 212-867-1762

Notes to Editors

About Obesity
Obesity, defined as a body mass index of greater than 30, arises from the accumulation of excess fat in the body from over consumption of fatty foods According to the American Obesity Association, obesity is a disease that affects nearly one-third of the adult American population (approximately 60 million). The number of overweight and obese Americans has continued to increase since 1960, a trend that is not slowing down. Today, 64.5 percent of adult Americans (about 127 million) are categorized as being overweight or obese. Each year, obesity causes at least 300,000 excess deaths in the U.S., and healthcare costs of American adults with obesity amount to approximately $100 billion. The World Health Organisation state that obesity is a major contributor to the global burden of chronic disease and disability and has reached epidemic proportions globally, with more than one billion adults overweight, at least 300 million of them being classed as clinically obese. People with obesity are at risk of developing one or more serious medical conditions, which can cause poor health and premature death. Obesity is associated with more than 30 medical conditions, and scientific evidence has established a strong relationship with at least 15 of those conditions.

About Diabetes
Diabetes is a disease whereby the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy. The dramatic rise in the incidence of type II diabetes is thought to be largely due to the increased prevalence of obesity. Type I diabetes results from the body's failure to produce insulin and it is estimated that 5-10% of Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type I diabetes. The more prevalent, type II diabetes results from insulin resistance (a condition in which the body fails to properly use insulin), combined with relative insulin deficiency and accounts for between 85 - 95% of all people with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, there are 20.8 million children and adults in the United States who have diabetes. While an estimated 14.6 million of these have been diagnosed almost one-third are unaware that they have the disease.

About Vernalis
Vernalis is a speciality bio-pharmaceutical company focused on products marketed to specialist neurologists. The company has two marketed products, Frova® and Apokyn®, and a development pipeline focused on neurology and central nervous system disorders. The company has eight products in clinical development and collaborations with leading, global pharmaceutical companies including Novartis, Biogen Idec and Serono. Vernalis has established a US commercial operation to promote Apokyn® and co-promote Frova® alongside its North American licensing partner, Endo Pharmaceuticals, progressing the company towards its goal of becoming a sustainable, self-funding, R&D-driven, speciality bio-pharmaceutical company. For further information about Vernalis, please visit: www.vernalis.com.

Product Indication Phase
I
Phase
II
Phase
III
Registration Market Marketing Rights
Apokyn® Parkinson’s Disease         X North America
Frova® Migraine         X US milestones & royalties - Endo (EU – royalties)
Frova® Menstrual Migraine Prevention       X   US milestones & royalties - Endo (EU – royalties)
V1512 Parkinson’s Disease   X       World Wide (excl. Italy)
V10153 Ischaemic stroke   X       World Wide
V1003 Acute Pain   X       US Profit share Option Reckitt Benckiser
V3381 Neuropathic Pain   X       World Wide
V2006 Parkinson’s Disease X         US Co-promotion Biogen Idec
MMPI Multiple Sclerosis X         None - royalty (Serono)
V24343 Obesity X         World Wide

Vernalis Forward-Looking Statement
This news release may contain forward-looking statements that reflect the Company’s current expectations regarding future events including the clinical development and regulatory clearance of the Company’s products, the Company’s ability to find partners for the development and commercialisation of its products, as well as the Company’s future capital raising activities. Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties. Actual events could differ materially from those projected herein and depend on a number of factors including the success of the Company’s research strategies, the applicability of the discoveries made therein, the successful and timely completion of clinical studies, the uncertainties related to the regulatory process, the ability of the Company to identify and agree beneficial terms with suitable partners for the commercialisation and/or development of its products, as well as the achievement of expected synergies from such transactions, the acceptance of Frova® and Apokyn® and other products by consumers and medical professionals, the successful integration of completed mergers and acquisitions and achievement of expected synergies from such transactions, and the ability of the Company to identify and consummate suitable strategic and business combination transactions.

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AGM Statement

Vernalis plc ("Vernalis" or the "Company") provides an update ahead of its Annual General Meeting ("AGM") being held today at 10.30 am at the offices of Covington & Burling, 265 Strand, London WC2R 1BH. 

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F: 0118 938 0001

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To report SUSPECTED ADVERSE REACTIONS, contact Vernalis Therapeutics, Inc. at 1-855-705-9546 and drugsafety@propharmagroup.com or FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch