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March 14, 2007 at 08:00 AM EDT
Avigen Receives Approval to Initiate AV650 Phase II Clinical Development


   Avigen to Present at Cowen and Company Annual Health Care Conference
 
     Webcast Scheduled for 9:30 a.m. (ET) on Thursday, March 15, 2007

ALAMEDA, Calif., March 14, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- Avigen, Inc. (Nasdaq:AVGN) a biopharmaceutical company developing innovative therapies for the treatment of neurological conditions, today announced it was given approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to commence Phase II clinical development of AV650 (tolperisone). AV650 is a New Chemical Entity (NCE) in the United States. Tolperisone is approved in several EU member countries for the treatment of spasticity and muscle spasms. Avigen's initial Phase II trial will assess the safety, tolerability, and initial efficacy, as well as AV650's lack of sedation, in spinal cord injury patients suffering from spasticity. This study will be a multi-center, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial and will explore doses up to the EU approved dose of 450 mg per day.

"This is an important step for Avigen and for the clinical development of AV650 for the treatment of spasticity," said Avigen President and Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Chahine, Ph.D., J.D. "It signifies not only the first time that AV650 is studied in the United States, but also the first time that lack of sedation will be formally assessed in patients with spasticity.

"This trial is part of Avigen's overall development plan for AV650," added Chahine. "Going forward, we intend to study AV650 at higher doses and in a variety of patient populations to fully explore its efficacy and safety profile."

Patricia Nance, M.D., clinical professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of California, Irvine noted, "Many patients suffering from spasticity find it difficult to tolerate currently available therapies due to sedation and other factors. We are encouraged by the European experience with AV650 and the promise that AV650 can provide patients relief of spasticity symptoms without the limiting side effects associated with these therapies."

About AV650

AV650 is being developed in the North American market for the treatment of disabling neuromuscular spasticity and spasm under a license and supply agreement with Sanochemia Pharmazeutika AG. AV650 is an orally administered centrally acting small molecule marketed for the treatment of neuromuscular spasticity and spasm in Europe and Asia, including Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Japan. Avigen's development program will build on the extensive ex-U.S. safety and efficacy experience with this compound.

About Neuromuscular Spasm and Spasticity

Chronic or recurrent muscle spasm is a sudden, violent, painful contraction of muscles typically associated with serious neurological disorders such as Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS), multiple sclerosis, stroke, spinal cord injury, and cerebral palsy. These painful muscle spasms are often, but not always, associated with spasticity, an abnormality in muscle "tone." Spastic limbs become stiff and rigid because the muscles fail to relax, lacking normal regulation by the damaged nervous system. Both spasticity and sudden, painful muscle spasms can occur as complications of the neurological disorders mentioned above.

About Avigen

Avigen is a biopharmaceutical company focused on unique small molecule therapeutics and biologics to treat serious neurological disorders, including neuropathic pain and neuromuscular spasm and spasticity. 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 committed to its small molecule and biologics neurology products. The company currently has in development AV650 for neuromuscular spasm and spasticity and AV411 for neuropathic pain. Additionally, the company has in development a compound for the treatment of hemophilia A and B, AV513. For more information about Avigen, consult the company's website at http://www.avigen.com.

Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act

This press release contains forward-looking statements, which include, among others, statements relating to Avigen's intention to study AV650 at doses higher than 450 mg per day in a variety of patient populations, its belief that AV650 may be able to provide patients relief of spasticity symptoms without the limiting side effects associated with other therapies, its belief that it will be able to build on ex-U.S. Tolperisone safety and efficacy experience, and its intention of completing the requirements of clinical development for each of the candidates in its product pipeline; looking for opportunities to expand its pipeline through a combination of internal research, acquisitions, and in-licensing; and becoming a fully integrated commercial biopharmaceutical company. These statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected in these forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include those 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 September 30, 2006, under the caption "Risk Factors" in Item 1A of Part 2 of that report, which was filed with the SEC on November 2, 2006.

Webcast

Michael Coffee, Chief Business Officer, will present information about Avigen's AV650 development plan at Cowen and Company's 27th Annual Health Care Conference on Thursday, March 15, 2007, from 9:30 to 10:05 a.m. ET. The presentation will be webcast live and archived on Avigen's website at www.avigen.com.

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

CONTACT:  Avigen, Inc.
          Michael Coffee, Chief Business Officer
          (510) 748-7372
          Fax: (510) 748-7155
          ir@avigen.com
          http://www.avigen.com
          1301 Harbor Bay Parkway,
          Alameda, CA 94502
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