Utah attorney Conan P. Grames has assisted in an alliance between Japan's second largest pharmaceutical company and a leading biotechnology company based in Australia.

Grames, an attorney with Salt Lake-based Kirton & McConkie, said the alliance between Sankyo Co. of Japan and Melbourne-based Biota may have global health benefits, given the fears about SARS and the possibility of flu-like pandemics. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The letter of intent signed by both companies anticipates that Sankyo and Biota will pool their long-acting flu drug development efforts, as well as commercialization partnerships.

"There is currently a large concern about a worldwide flu epidemic," Grames said. "This drug has the potential for both the treatment and prevention of influenza. So we're excited about it."

Grames said the deal between Biota and Sankyo, neither of which have operations in Utah, signals the possibility for growth in the international legal arena for Utah attorneys and firms.

"Hopefully, this will be the start of something big," Grames said.