Pharma brand erosion hits US hardest

The US will be the region hit hardest by erosion of the branded small molecule drug market by generic competition, according to a new report. Cheaper generic alternatives are becoming available as patents for key drugs expire, making it harder for drugmakers to recover money spent during drug development. Analysts at UK market research company Datamonitor said that on average US sales fall 72 per cent in the six months following the appearance of generic competition. Meanwhile, global trends are more complicated. In China, for example, patent expiries have little if any impact because brands face generic competition from the outset. Erosion is greatest for infectious disease, oncology and cardiovascular small molecule brands, and is greater in the market for hospital use than that for direct patient consumption. 

IndianOil to work with LanzaTech on biofuel

Indian oil major IndianOil and New Zealand clean energy technology company LanzaTech, have agreed to collaborate on the integration of technology that will enable IndianOil to produce fuel grade ethanol from waste gases. As a part of the deal, IndianOil will evaluate the LanzaTech fermentation technology, in which gas mixtures containing carbon dioxide are scrubbed, cooled and sent to a bioreactor, where the carbon components are used as food sources for the microbes, which produce liquid biofuel. 

Carbon fibre production in Korea

Japanese speciality chemical company Toray Industries has said it will build a new plant for carbon fibre production in South Korea through its subsidiary Toray Advanced Materials Korea (TAK). The company will invest KRW63 billion (£35 million) in the project. It says that South Korea has previously relied on imports for ‘almost all’ of its carbon fibre, demand for which is growing in the country. The carbon fibre produced at the new plant will be used in energy, sport, automotive and aviation applications. TAK was established in 1999 and now employs over 1000 staff. In its 2009 financial year it made sales of KRW953 billion.

GSK sets $2.2bn legal charge

UK pharma major GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has revealed that it plans to record a £2.2 billion legal charge in the fourth quarter of 2010, money set aside to pay for ongoing legal disputes. According to the company, the charge is primarily intended to cover investigations into the diabetes drug Avandia (rosiglitazone), a former blockbuster. In September, the EU decided it should be withdrawn from the market and the US restricted its use. The pundits say the charge is higher than expected, but a prudent approach is probably a sound strategy – the respectable GSK pipeline should enable the company to weather the storm. 

New lithium-ion battery joint venture

Japanese companies Ube Industries, which makes chemicals, and Hitachi Maxell, which makes consumer electronics, have agreed to establish a joint venture for lithium-ion batteries separator films. Separators are key components in lithium-ion batteries, providing a physical barrier that stops the electrodes touching but allows ions to flow between them. Ube Industries makes separators using a dry process to form a multi-layer of polyethylene and polypropylene in a microporous structure. Together, the companies have developed a way to form a coated film with inorganic fine particles on the multi-layer. The technique incorporates thin film coating technology that Maxell developed for magnetic tape production. According to the companies, the coated film reduces ‘heat shrinkage’ during abnormal heat generation, which helps to prevent short circuits and thereby increases the safety of the batteries. The new company will be called Ube Maxell and be based in Kyoto, Japan. It will be established in February using ¥150 million (£1 million) of capital stock. Ube will own a 51 per cent stake – Maxell a 49 per cent stake.

Andrew Turley

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