Categories: News , The Commercial Chemist | 1 Comment
In today’s Commercial Chemist, we cover Astellas buy-out of OSI and discuss how Pfizer plans to streamline its manufacturing facilities – a process that will see the company shed 6000 jobs.
OSI agrees to Astellas buyout
After a 2 month courtship, cancer specialist OSI has relented to Astellas’s advances and agreed to be bought by Japan’s third-largest drugmaker for $4 billion (£2.8 billion) in cash – an 11 per cent increase on Astellas’s original offer. The deal will see Astellas get its hands on OSI’s blockbuster cancer drug Tarceva (erlotinib) and will help it cope with losing patent protection for its prostate drug Flomax (tamsulosin) and its immunosuppressant drug Prograf (fujimycin).
‘The merger with OSI provides Astellas with a top-tier oncology platform in the U.S and an expanded product portfolio and pipeline,’ said Masafumi Nogimori, chief executive of Astellas. ‘In addition to Tarceva, we are pleased to add its oncology infrastructure, discovery platform, expanded pipelines and talent base to our existing businesses.’
Pfizer reconfigures manufacturing footprint
Pfizer has announced how it plans to ‘reconfigure its global plant network’, a move that will see it close eight manufacturing sites and shed 6000 employees over the next few years. Ireland will be particularly hard hit, losing manufacturing sites in Dublin, Loughbeg (right) and Shanbally, while Puerto Rico will lose its Caguas and Carolina plants. The Rouses Point plant in the US will also be closed, although Wyeth had already planned to divest the site before it was taken over by Pfizer.
Six other plants, including Havant in the UK, are scheduled to see reductions in staffing levels. The headcount reductions form part of the 19,500 job cuts that Pfizer announced when it bought Wyeth in January 2009.
‘The restructuring of our global plant network is critical to our efforts to remain competitive so that we can continue to meet patient needs and expand the access and affordability of our medicines,’ said Nat Ricciardi, president of Pfizer Global Manufacturing.
He continued by saying that he is ‘keenly aware of the impact these types of changes have on employees and their families,’ and that the company would explore opportunities to divest plants to preserve jobs and minimise the impact of the closures on local communities.
…and announces a new collaboration with Washington University
Pfizer has launched what it believes is a first-of-a-kind collaboration between industry and academia in an effort to find uses for failed drug candidates, and new uses for existing drugs. The five-year, $22.5 million deal will see Pfizer give scientists at the Washington University school of medicine access to information on more than 500 pharmaceutical candidates so that they do not have to replicate extensive preclinical studies when evaluating new uses for existing candidates.
‘The majority of candidates tested in development do not give the desired result, yet those drugs that do succeed typically have multiple uses,’ says Don Frail, chief scientific officer of Pfizer’s Indications Discovery Unit.
‘By harnessing the scientific expertise at this leading academic medical center, the collaboration seeks to discover entirely new uses for these compounds in areas of high patient need that might otherwise be left undiscovered.’
Bayer sets up US innovation centre
Meanwhile, Bayer seems to be profiting from Pfizer’s streamlining efforts, and has unveiled plans to set up a US innovation centre in a building vacated by Pfizer in July. Bayer will move 65 employees into the building, located in Mission Bay, San Francisco, and plans to use it as a ‘science hub’ from with to create collaborations with academic researchers and small biotech companies – of which there are many in the Bay area.
‘Mission Bay is a hotbed of innovation in the US and key to our decision to co-locate our researchers in this life sciences community,’ said Andreas Busch, head of global drug discovery for Bayer Schering Pharma. ‘We expect this new focus on US research collaboration to enhance Bayer’s pipeline, which features a successful combination of internal excellence with highly partnered approaches in research and development and commercialisation.’
Agilent completes Varian buy
Laboratory instrument expert Agilent Technologies, has finalised its $1.5 billion acquisition of Varian. The deal adds nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and x-ray crystallography platforms to Agilent, as well as strengthening its position in the chromatography and spectroscopy arenas.
‘The acquisition is a key strategic move for us in the chemical analysis arena, and will serve to fuel our growth trajectory and provide more value to our customers,’ said Mike McMullen, president of Agilent’s chemical analysis group. ‘We will also add a new vacuum technologies business to Agilent, which will continue to operate as a standalone business unit within Agilent.’
The company has also announced that during the second quarter of 2010, its sales grew 16 per cent to $1.27 billion. It also managed to turn around the $47 million operating loss it made in the second quarter of last year, to record operating profits of $154 million.
See here for an in-depth interview with Nick Roelofs, president of Agilent’s life sciences group, on how Agilent is planning to ride the waves of the economic recession.
Petrochemical demand to rise
Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Meti), believes that demand for petrochemicals is on the rise. According to a study commissioned by Meti, demand for petrochemicals will ‘pick up’, with demand for aromatics and ethylene and propylene derivatives expected to increase by 2 per cent in 2010. By 2014, Meti expects demand to be increasing by nearly 7 per cent a year.
Much of the growth during this period is expected to come from Asia where demand for ethylene derivatives is predicted to rise by 5 per cent a year and propylene derivatives 6 per cent. Meti predicts the strongest growth will be from China where demand is predicted to grow at around 7 per cent.
But the report cautions that despite increasing demand, the petrochemical markets are likely to become increasingly competitive, with Middle Eastern production capacity expected to significantly increase – leading to excess supplies.
Fire at LyondellBasell refinery
There has been a fire at LyondellBasell’s Houston, Texas refinery that could be seen ‘for miles’, according to local reports. The fire broke out in a crude oil distillation unit at the 700-acre facility, and was extinguished within an hour.
The company has said it is assessing the damage and that no-one was hurt during the incident.