PHARMACEUTICAL

FDA approves Botox for migraine

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Botox (onabotulinumtoxin A), marketed by US biotech Allergan, for the treatment of chronic migraine.

The move comes just weeks after Allergan agreed to pay $600 million (£380 million) to settle claims that it illegally marketed Botox, best known as a cosmetic product for the reduction of wrinkles. It is likely to aid Botox sales, which flattened out in 2009 at $1.3 billion, the same as in 2008.

The approval only covers patients with chronic migraine: those that have headaches on 15 days per month or more. During a treatment session, medical staff make 31 Botox injections at seven sites around the head and neck in order to dull future headaches. The effects can last for up to three months, the company says.

Pfizer deal for Biocon

Pfizer is teaming up with Indian biotech company Biocon on the commercialisation of the Biocon insulin biosimilars, including recombinant human insulin, glargine, aspart and lispro.

The pharma giant will pay $200 million upfront for exclusive rights to commercialise the products in all regions except Germany, India and Malaysia, in which it will share rights with Biocon.

Biocon will develop, manufacture and supply the products, and take responsibility for getting regulatory approval. Under the terms, Biocon could also receive royalties on sales and payments of up to $150 million for passing developmental and regulatory milestones.

The recent performance of Danish pharma company Novo Nordisk, which does most of its business with insulin products, perhaps gives some indication of why Pfizer might wants to get into this area. Sales at the company rose 14 per cent to DKK29 billion (£3.4 billion) in the first half of this year, compared with the same period last year – driven by a 16 per cent rise in sales of diabetes care products to DKK21.6 billion.

Reckitt pays for abusing position in UK

Reckitt Benckiser has agreed to pay £10.2 million for abusing its dominant position in the heartburn market.

According to the UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT), the company took advantage of the way doctors prescribe drugs in the UK to unfairly increase prescriptions for one of its products.

Normally, when a drug patent expires and the generic name is assigned, doctors can use the prescribing software to search for the brand and then give their patients ‘open’ prescriptions that list the generic name. Pharmacies can then choose to dispense the branded product or the generic equivalent – thus keeping down costs for the National Health Service.

But after the patent for Gaviscon Original expired, Reckitt withdrew it from the national prescription channel in 2005 before the publication of the generic name, the OFT says. This encouraged doctors to prescribe Gaviscon Advance, for which there was no generic equivalent, it adds. The OFT issued a statement of objections in February. The company has admitted infringing UK and European competition law.

‘Vigorous competition between firms supplying the public sector is vital to ensure taxpayers get the best value for money,’ said John Fingleton, OFT chief executive. 

CHEMICAL

Solvay invests in VC fund

Solvay is going to invest KRW20 billion (£11 billion) in the Korea Advanced Materials Fund, a venture capital fund focussing on renewable energy, printed electronics, clean technologies and green chemistry. Korea Venture Investment and AJU IB Investment will each add a further KRW10 billion. AJU IB Investment will manage the fund.

Wacker in China

Chemical company Wacker has opened its new silicone-polymer plant at Zhangjiagang in China. The plant manufactures intermediates and downstream silicone products, including fluids. The company says that it completes its supply chain in China and represents an investment of €30 million (£26 million).

‘Our Chinese business is generating double-digit growth, clearly outperforming the world market,’ said Carlos Weise, president of the Wacker silicones division.

In 2009, Wacker made sales of over €730 million in China and Taiwan. Globally, silicones generated sales of €1.24 billion, 33 per cent of total sales.

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