AETERNA LABORATORIES INC.

                                                      P R E S S   R E L E A S E
                                                          FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


MONTREAL, QUEBEC, MAY 23, 2001 - Today, at its annual shareholders meeting, Dr.
Eric Dupont, President and Chief Executive Officer of AEterna Laboratories Inc.
(TSE: AEL, NASDAQ: AELA), mentioned that over the last few months, the Company
continued its clinical trial program in Canada and the United States, further
expanding it to Europe. This strategy enabled the Company to bring Neovastat,
its novel antiangiogenic product, to the final stage of development leading to
its commercialization. Dr. Dupont reaffirmed AEterna's goal to finish pivotal
clinical trials in kidney cancer and multiple myeloma (blood cancer) by the end
of 2002.

Dr. Dupont also outlined recent corporate accomplishments and future strategic
objectives. AEterna recently signed its first two strategic alliances with
pharmaceutical companies for the European market. The Company foresees signing
similar agreements for the Americas and also Asia to complete its positioning at
the international level. AEterna is also actively pursuing opportunities to
acquire a biotech or innovative technologies in order to expand its product

Finally, AEterna's subsidiary Atrium Biotechnologies Inc., specialized in
cosmetics and nutritional products, registered an excellent performance with
sales of CAN$8.4 million, a 36.5% increase compared to last year.

"Neovastat is generating great interest in the international medical community.
This increased interest has led many renowned oncologists to join our scientific
committee and to participate in our clinical studies over the last year," said
Dr. Dupont. "Furthermore, Canadian and American financial analysts have issued
positive reports on AEterna. All these elements, along with our sound financial
situation, lead us to believe that we are in excellent position to be among the
first to bring an angiogenesis inhibitor to market."


"Over the last twelve months, AEterna has achieved important goals, one of which
is the positioning of Neovastat as one of the few antiangiogenic products
currently being investigated in pivotal clinical trials," commented Dr. Dupont.
"Previous kidney cancer phase I/II trial results showing a statistically
significant two-fold increase of median survival time in patients given a high
dose of Neovastat are encouraging. Also, two more mechanisms of action
(apoptosis and angiostatin) from Neovastat were discovered. These findings are
further proof that Neovastat is a frontrunner in this new class of therapeutic
cancer treatments," added Dr. Dupont.


"Our recent strategic alliances with European pharmaceutical companies for the
eventual commercialization of Neovastat, represented an important stepping stone
towards our international expansion," said Gilles Gagnon, AEterna's Vice
President and Chief Operating Officer. "Talks are currently ongoing for other
partnerships for the Americas and Asia which will provide Neovastat with an
optimal positioning on the world market."


The Company maintains a solid financial situation with more than CAN$62 million
in cash an short- term investments. It also has access to CAN$17 million through
the Technology Partnerships Canada program. "These amounts are quite sufficient
to complete our current pivotal trials in kidney cancer and multiple myeloma,
according to our scheduled timetable," noted Dennis Turpin, Vice President and
Chief Financial Officer at AEterna. Furthermore, its subsidiary Atrium
Biotechnologies Inc., has proven to be very profitable and has the necessary
funds at its disposal to make acquisitions which will ensure its growth at the
international level, in a market which shows great potential.

The consolidated financial statements as of December 31, 2000, were the object
of a modification reflecting a change in interpretation as to the accounting
method related to the CAN$20 million investment in Atrium by SGF Soquia inc.,
Fonds de solidarite FTQ and Fonds d'investissement bioalimentaire. The gain on
dilution from the investment which was recorded in 2000 has instead been
recorded in 2001. This restatement has no impact on the Company's cash and
financial situation at the present date.

Restated consolidated financial statements were then filed and presented to
shareholders, as suggested by AEterna management with the accord of its external
auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers.


AEterna Laboratories Inc. is a Canadian biopharmaceutical company and a
frontrunner in the field of antiangiogenesis. Its lead product,
Neovastat/AE-941, is being investigated in three major therapeutic areas:
oncology, dermatology and ophthalmology.

Neovastat is a novel antiangiogenic product with multiple mechanisms of action
that block angiogenesis -- the process involved in the formation of new blood
vessels which are needed in order for cancer tumors and other pathological
conditions to develop.

Neovastat is currently used in two Phase III pivotal clinical trials for the
treatment of lung and kidney cancer as well as in a Phase II pivotal trial for
the treatment of multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. These trials are
currently held in more than 125 clinical institutions in Canada, the U.S. and in
several European countries. For more information, please call 1-888-349-3232
(North America).

AEterna is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol AEL and on
Nasdaq under the symbol AELA.

AEterna's news releases and additional information are available on its Web site
at www.aeterna.com.


This press release contains forward-looking statements, which are made pursuant
to the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Securities Litigation Reform Act of
1995. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and
uncertainties which could cause the Company's actual results to differ
materially from those in the forward-looking statements. Such risks and
uncertainties include, among others, the availability of funds and resources to
pursue R&D projects, the successful and timely completion of clinical studies,
the ability of the Company to take advantage of the business opportunities in
the pharmaceutical industry, uncertainties related to the regulatory process and
general changes in economic conditions. Investors should consult the Company's
ongoing quarterly and annual filings with the Canadian and U.S. securities
commissions for additional information on risks and uncertainties relating to
the forward-looking statements. Investors are cautioned not to rely on these
forward-looking statements. The Company does not undertake to update these
forward-looking statements.


CANADA                                       USA
Paul Burroughs                               Investor and Media Relations:
Director of Communications                   Ms. Lisa Lindberg
AEterna Laboratories Inc.                    The Investor Relations Group Inc.
Tel.: 418-652-8525, ext. 406                 Tel.: 212-825-3210
Cell. : 418-573-8982                         Fax: 212-825-3229
Fax: 418-577-7700                            E-mail: TheProTeam@aol.com
E-mail: paul.burroughs@aeterna.com