ZymoGenetics was told to clarify a press release suggesting its new Recothrom blood-clotting product caused fewer antibody reactions than a competitor derived from bovine blood.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says ZymoGenetics omitted important facts when announcing the launch of its first commercial product, Recothrom, and it asked the company to revise the press release.

The Seattle company’s product is a genetically engineered form of thrombin, a protein that helps control surgical bleeding. In a Jan. 17 press release, ZymoGenetics said its product was shown to be as effective as a competitor derived from bovine blood, and had a “lower incidence of antibody formation.”

In a letter posted on the FDA’s website Wednesday, the agency called that statement “false or misleading,” because it suggested that bovine thrombin’s antibodies are less safe than Recothrom. In clinical trials, the agency noted, the antibodies did not lead to adverse events in patients treated with the bovine product. Both products had similar instances of adverse events, the FDA said.

In response to the FDA letter, ZymoGenetics added a three-sentence footnote with the missing information. The information is already present in the company’s promotional materials, said spokeswoman Susan Specht. “This will not change the sales materials,” she said.

The FDA action underscores the fierce competitiveness of the medical market — and how closely federal regulators watch over it. ZymoGenetics has asserted that genetically engineered products, also called recombinant, are less risky than those derived from bovine or human blood, which could contain impurities.

The company said Tuesday that its Recothrom sales had reached $1 million in the first quarter of its launch.

“We believe the launch is going well, and we’re seeing strong interest in the marketplace, reflecting an appreciation for the advantages of a recombinant topical hemostat,” said Chief Executive Bruce Carter.

Kevin DeGeeter, an analyst with Oppenheimer & Co, said in a note that Recothrom adoption is “taking longer than previously thought,” and called the launch “soft.”

Many hospitals targeted by ZymoGenetics are stocking both Recothrom and its bovine competitor made by King Pharmaceuticals.

McAdams Wright Ragen analyst Paul Latta cut his 2008 sales outlook to $18 million from $30 million, but said the product’s long term potential remained unchanged.

“We’re still seeing a $300 million to $400 million product in three to five years,” Latta said. “But clearly it will take a while to get there.”

Ángel González: 206-515-5644 or agonzalez@seattletimes.com