Job cuts at Roche…

Swiss pharma major Roche says it will cut 4800 jobs – 6 per cent of its global workforce – in 2011 and 2012. In addition, 800 jobs will be transferred within the organisation and 700 outsourced. The move comes as part of a cost cutting initiative that the company says will save it CHF 2.4 billion (£1.5 billion) annually. But the restructuring will cost Roche CHF 2.7 billion from 2010 to 2012. ‘The initiative is a response to mounting cost pressures in healthcare, particularly in the US and Europe, and to increasing hurdles for the approval and pricing of new medicines,’ the company says. As part of the plan, it will look to sell two US sites – in Florence, South Carolina, and Boulder, Colorado – and close one site in France.

…and Bayer

German pharma and chemical company Bayer is doing likewise, with plans to cut 4500 jobs worldwide by 2012. Meanwhile, 2500 new jobs are to be created ‘particularly in the emerging markets’ so that the net loss will be 2000, 1.8 per cent of the 108,700-strong total workforce. The move will save Bayer €800 million (£685 million) annually from 2013, it says, although a one-off cost of €1 billion is expected by 2012 to cover the restructuring. It adds that ‘sales and earnings are under pressure from generic products, rising development costs and the effects of health care reforms’.

Anacetrapib combats cholesterol

In Phase III trials, cholesterol candidate anacetrapib reduced ‘bad’ cholesterol by almost half and more than doubled ‘good’ cholesterol, according to recently published research. Anacetrapib is a cholesterylester transfer protein (CETP) inhibitor developed by US drugmaker Merck & Co. In the Define trial, anacetrapib reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by 40 per cent, from 81 to 49 mg per decilitre. At the same time, it boosted high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) from 40 to 101 mg per decilitre, without raising blood pressure. High levels of LDL or bad cholesterol and low levels of HDL or good cholesterol are associated with clogged arteries and risk of cardiovascular disease.

‘Anacetrapib has a knock-your-socks-off effect on HDL and a jaw-dropping effect on LDL,’ said Christopher Cannon, a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, US. ‘These changes are striking because virtually all the patients in the study were already taking cholesterol-lowering drugs and achieved previously unattainable levels of good and bad cholesterol.’ Side effects sometimes seen with statins, which are often used to alter cholesterol levels, including changes in kidney function, blood pressure and liver activity, were not seen in the trial.


Dow Corning and Wacker new plant

US silicones company Dow Corning and German chemical company Wacker have opened their integrated silicone manufacturing site at Zhangjiagang in Jiangsu Province, China. The site is the result of a $1.8 billion (£1.1 billion) joint venture between the companies. They say it is the largest facility of this kind in China and one of the biggest and most advanced integrated silicone production sites in the world. The site includes siloxane and pyrogenic silica plants, with combined capacity expected to reach 210,000 tonnes per year. Siloxane is a raw material for the production of silicones. Pyrogenic silica is used as an ‘active filler’ in silicone elastomers.

EPA expands endocrine list

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified 134 chemicals that it intends to screen for their potential to disrupt the human endocrine system, which regulates growth, metabolism and reproduction. The list includes benzene, perchlorate, urethane, ethylene glycol and erythromycin. The EPA is already screening 67 pesticide chemicals as part of an initial wave.

BASF Bahrain plant

German chemical giant BASF is planning to build a new production plant for ‘customer specific’ antioxidant blends (CSBs) in Bahrain. The new plant will arrive alongside the existing agreement for CSBs with Astra Polymer in the Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia, which is mainly supplying local customers.

Andrew Turley

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