Avigen Announces AV650 Did Not Meet Efficacy Endpoints in Phase 2b Clinical Trial for Spasticity in Patients With Multiple Sclerosis

Conference Call Scheduled for 11:00 a.m. (ET) On Tuesday, October 21, 2008

ALAMEDA, Calif., Oct. 21, 2008 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Avigen, Inc. (Nasdaq:AVGN), a biopharmaceutical company innovating therapeutics for neurological care, today announced that the top-line data from its Phase 2b study of AV650 (tolperisone HCl) for the treatment of spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis (MS) did not achieve statistical significance on its primary endpoint of a reduction from baseline of patients' Ashworth scores as compared to placebo. The reduction of muscle spasm, a secondary endpoint, also failed to achieve statistical significance. There were no safety issues. The trial was adequately powered, and all statistical parameters were in line with expectations.

"We are disappointed with the result of this trial," said Kenneth Chahine, Ph.D., J.D., Avigen's President and Chief Executive Officer. "We had hoped AV650 would become an important new treatment option for people in the United States who currently suffer from spasticity. While we will continue to review the additional data from the trial and consider further options, we are confident in the trial design and the quality of the top-line results.

"We will now shift our focus and resources toward the clinical development of our AV411 program. At the end of 2008, we will have approximately $50 million of cash and securities. This represents approximately 2 years of cash and provides a strong foundation for advancing the development of AV411 for neuropathic pain and opioid addiction and withdrawal."

About the Trial

This double-blind, randomized clinical trial was conducted in 27 MS centers in Germany and other European countries to evaluate safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and efficacy in up to 150 MS patients suffering from spasticity. This trial was being conducted to Good Clinical Practice standards by a leading international clinical research organization. Following a five-week double blind assessment, patients were offered the opportunity to continue for up to twelve months in an open-label safety phase. The primary efficacy endpoint was the Ashworth scale, a standard tool used in the clinic to measure increased resistance to passive limb movement. Secondary endpoints included Brief Pain Index (BPI), painful spasm diaries, and clinical impression of change.

Conference Call Information

Avigen management will host a conference call and webcast today, Tuesday, October 21, 2008, at 11:00 a.m. ET (8:00 a.m. PT). This webcast can be accessed from the Avigen website at www.avigen.com. The conference call can be accessed by dialing 866-356-3377 for domestic callers and 617-597-5392 for international callers. The participant passcode is 38560091. A web replay will also be available following the call on the company's website. Rebroadcast of the call will be available approximately one hour after the live call by dialing 888-286-8010 for domestic callers and 617-801-6888 for international callers. The passcode is 17250351. About Avigen

Avigen is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing small molecule therapeutics to treat serious neurological disorders, including neuropathic pain and opioid addiction and withdrawal. Avigen's strategy is to complete the requirements of clinical development for each of the candidates in its product pipeline, and continue to look for opportunities to expand its pipeline through a combination of internal research, acquisitions, and in-licensing, with the goal of becoming a fully integrated commercial biopharmaceutical company that remains committed to its neurology products. Avigen is currently developing AV411 for neuropathic pain, as well as opioid withdrawal and addiction in collaboration with the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Additionally, the company is advancing AV513, a novel therapy for the treatment of multiple bleeding disorders, including hemophilia A and B, toward clinical trials. For more information about Avigen, consult the company's website at www.avigen.com.

The Avigen, Inc. logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=2981

Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act

The statements in this press release relating to Avigen's expectations regarding the quality of the top-line results from the AV650 Phase 2b spasticity trial and its consideration of further options based on a review of additional data from the trial, its expectation regarding the level of its financial resources at December 31, 2008 and how long its financial resources will last, its expectation regarding shifting resources toward the clinical development of AV411, and its goal of becoming a fully integrated commercial biopharmaceutical company remaining committed to its neurology products, are forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, among others, the fact that development of small molecule therapeutics and other therapeutic discovery and development is a time- and resource-intensive process, which may result in the expenditure of a significant amount of time and resources with no progress towards clinical trials or marketable product resulting from the effort; the risk that Avigen will not be able to obtain regulatory approvals for its drug products, which is required prior to marketing drug products; and the risk that early positive preclinical and clinical results will not guarantee that the potential products will ultimately be effective in treating the indications for which they are developed, or exhibit the unique properties they appear to possess. In addition, there are many other risks and uncertainties inherent in the development of drug products. Other risks and uncertainties relating to Avigen are detailed in reports filed by Avigen with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including Avigen's Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the period ended June 30, 2008, under the caption "Risks Related to Our Business" in Item 2 of Part I of that report, which was filed with the SEC on August 11, 2008.

Contact: Michael Coffee Chief Business Officer Avigen, Inc. 1301 Harbor Bay Parkway, Alameda, CA 94502 510-748-7372 IR@avigen.com

Posted: October 2008

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