Categories: The Commercial Chemist | 1 Comment
New boss at Pfizer
US drug giant Pfizer has a new boss at the helm. Jeff Kindler has unexpectedly retired from the company after four and a half years as chief executive, citing the demanding nature of the job. The vacancy has been filled by Ian Read, who from 2006 headed the biopharmaceutical businesses. ‘The combination of meeting the requirements of our many stakeholders around the world, and the 24-7 nature of my responsibilities, has made this period extremely demanding on me personally,’ said Kindler. ‘I am excited at the opportunity to recharge my batteries, spend some rare time with my family and prepare for the next challenge in my career.’
Blood thinner BriIinta (ticagrelor) from pharma major AstraZeneca has been approved in Europe for the prevention of heart attacks and other cardiovascular events in patients with coronary problems. In September, the drug received a positive opinion from the European committee asked to review it. In trials, the drug has been compared with Plavix (clopidogrel) from Sanofi-Aventis, which generated sales of €5.2 billion (£4.4 billion) in the first nine months of 2010 but is on the slide as European sales are eroded by generic competition.
Zometa so good
Swiss pharma company Novartis says that recently published data shows Zometa (zoledronic acid) helps patients with a type of cancer called multiple myeloma to live longer. Zometa is a bisphosphonate approved for the reduction or delay of bone problems in patients with multiple myeloma or other types of cancer involving bone. It is also approved for the treatment of hypercalcemia of malignancy, when tumours lead to high levels of calcium in the blood. The effect on survival was independent of the effect on bone problems, according to the researchers.
BASF strikes deal with Petronas
German chemical company BASF says it is exploring the possibility of producing speciality chemicals in Malaysia with state-owned oil and gas company Petronas. The two have signed a memorandum of understanding on the joint venture, which could represent an investment of €1 billion. In particularly, they will look at: non-ionic surfactants, methanesulfonic acid, iso-nonanol and other ‘C4-based’ speciality chemical products.
GSK buys Chinese drugmaker
UK pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has agreed to buy Chinese company Nanjing MeiRui Pharma (MeiRui) for $70 million. Under the deal, GSK will buy the 90 per cent stake held by Pagoda, a partner organisation of MeiRui, and the 10 per cent stake held by Swedish company Allergon. (The latter should not to be confused with US pharma company Allergan.) MeiRui has a portfolio of urology and allergy products, including Prostat for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia and Sheniting for the treatment of overactive bladder syndrome. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of 2010.
Arkema buys resins from Total
French chemical company Arkema is going to buy the photocure and coating resins businesses at French oil supermajor Total for €550 million. Specifically, Total is selling the coating resins units at Cray Valley and Cook Composites & Polymers and the photocure resins unit at Sartomer, which together employ 1,750 people in 13 countries and are expected to generate sales of €850 million in 2010. The divestment is expected to take place in the first half of 2011.
Arkema seems to be spending a lot at the moment. In November, it said it would invest $110 million (£70 million) over the next three years at its acrylics sites at Clear Lake and Bayport in Texas, US. Weeks before, it said it would invest €30 million, in the production of dimethyl amino ethyl acrylate (DMAEA) at its Carling site in France. And in September, it said it was planning to build a $30 million plant in China for the production of emulsion polymers for coatings and adhesives. A very cursory inspection of its third quarter results suggests the company is in good shape, making sales of €1.6 billion, an increase of 41 per cent compared with the same period last year, while operating income increased from €28 million to €173 million.
Positive opinion for obesity drug
Obesity candidate Contrave (naltrexone, bupropion) from US biotech Orexigen has received a positive opinion from the US committee asked to review it ahead of a marketing decision from the Food and Drug Administration. It is an interesting twist in the story of three obesity drugs that generated column inches earlier in 2010. The first two to come under scrutiny by the authorities – Qnexa (phentermine, topiramate) from Vivus and Lorqess (lorcaserin) from Arena – failed to impress the committee, and the FDA subsequently turned down their applications. But this time it was good news. The committee voted 13-7 in favour of approving Contrave, concluding the benefits to the intended patient group outweighed the risks, although it also voted 11-8 in favour of further studies to investigate the cardiac risks.
In September, Japanese pharma company Takeda paid $50 million upfront for marketing rights to Contrave. It looked like a bit of a gamble back then. It looks more like good planning now. The obesity market could be extremely lucrative, but pharma companies have struggled to get past regulators, who seem to have grown extremely wary. Several high-profile drugs have been pulled from markets around the world recently due to harmful side-effects.