MedImmune interest in Amgen biologic

MedImmune – the biologics unit at pharma major AstraZeneca – has gained rights to a monoclonal antibody from US biotech Amgen. AMG 108 is a fully human monoclonal antibody in Phase I and II clinical trials for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. The companies have not disclosed financial details.

GSK dental deal

UK pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and dental products company Dentsply have agreed to work together on new tooth sensitivity dental products. GSK makes toothpastes designed to reduce tooth sensitivity under the Sensodyne and NovaMin brands. Dentsply makes NuPro products, tooth polishing pastes for removing stains in the clinic. The deal, which does not involve financial contributions, will allow Dentsply to co-brand its NuPro products with both GSK brands. Dentsply made 2009 sales of $2.2 billion (£1.4 billion). 

Lanxess buys Darmex in Argentina

German synthetic rubber company Lanxess has made – through its subsidiary Rhein Chemie – its first Argentinean acquisition, with the purchase of privately owned company Darmex, which makes release agents and curing bladders for the tire industry. The companies have not disclosed financial details. Darmex employs 200 staff and is expecting to achieve sales of $30 million in its 2010 financial year.

Curing bladders made of butyl rubber are used to make tires. The unfinished tire is placed in a press and forced into its finished shape by inflating the bladder at high temperature, which pushes it against the sides of the press. Release agents prevent adhesion to either the bladder or the mould. According to Lanxess, the global curing bladder market is worth more than €300 million (£250 million).

Takeda buys tools for trials

Japanese pharma company Takeda has bought licensing rights to an Alzheimer’s disease biomarker assay called TOMM40 from Zinfandel Pharmaceuticals. The assay is designed to identify people with a high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease within five years of testing. Zinfandel will receive $9 million upfront and become eligible for subsequent payments totalling up to $78 million, contingent on development and commercialisation milestones.

There is some evidence that Takeda diabetes drug Actos (pioglitazone) improves cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. (T Sato et al, Neurobiology of Aging, DOI: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2009.10.009) The deal will allow Takeda to use the assay to identify potential candidates for clinical trials of pioglitazone for this use.

Sud Chemie five year deal with Yara

German speciality chemical company Süd-Chemie and Norwegian fertiliser group Yara have signed a five year agreement covering catalysts for fertiliser production. Süd-Chemie says it expects the deal to contribute $40 million in sales over the period. It will provide catalysts for feed purification, hydrodesulfurisation, steam reforming and methane synthesis from carbon monoxide.

Pre-Christmas spending spree

Consumers weren’t the only ones splashing out in the run up to Christmas it seems. December 2010 was the busiest month for those buying and selling chemical companies for several years, according to analysis from UK corporate finance advisory company Clearwater. Among the biggest deals were: the Arkema deal for the photocure and coatings resins businesses of Total, worth $720m; the $1.1 billion deal in which DSM agreed to buy Martek Biosciences, which makes nutrition products from microbial sources; and the Yule Catto deal for PolymerLatex, worth €443 million.

Andrew Turley

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