Forest pays $1.2bn to merge with Clinical Data

US pharma company Forest Laboratories has agreed to buy Clinical Data for $30 (£19) per share in cash, equivalent to $1.2 billion, plus $6 per share payable if Viibryd (vilazodone) achieves certain commercial milestones. Forest intends to use existing cash to finance the deal.

Viibryd was approved in January in the US for the treatment of depression. It is a ‘selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor and a 5-HT1A receptor partial agonist’. The mechanism of action is still unknown. 

Gilead buys Calistoga for $375m

Gilead Sciences, a biotech headquartered in Foster City, CA, US, has agreed to buy private biotech Calistoga Pharmaceuticals, which specialises in cancer and inflammatory diseases, for $375 million. Calistoga could receive an extra payment of up to $225 million for meeting certain milestones. Gilead intends to use existing cash to finance the deal.

Calistoga is built around a group of compounds that selectively target isoforms of enzyme phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI3K). The lead product candidate, CA0L-101, is a first-in-class inhibitor of the PI3K delta isoform. It is in Phase II studies for the treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and lymphocytic leukemia. 

EU committee votes for Rasilamlo

A European Medicines Agency (EMA) committee has recommended approval of Rasilamlo (aliskiren and amlodipine) for the treatment of high blood pressure.

Drugmaker Novartis, which si developing the candidate, says it expects a licensing decision from the European Commission in three months. Aliskiren targets the renin angiotensin aldosterone system, one regulator of blood pressure. It binds to and inhibits renin, a kidney enzyme that indirectly can make blood vessels narrow and lead to high blood pressure. Amlodipine blocks calcium channels, which reduces blood pressure as the blood vessel walls. Rasilez (aliskiren) is already approved in many countries for the treatment of high blood pressure.

Thermo Fisher makes $940m in sale of two units

Instrument maker Thermo Fisher Scientific has struck deals to sell two business units, Athena Diagnostics and Lancaster Laboratories, bringing in $940 million in cash.

Athena will go to Quest Diagnostics for $740 million. Athena is a reference laboratory based in Worcester, MA, US, that provides diagnostic testing for neurological and other diseases. It generated sales of $110 million 2010 and employs 300 people. Meanwhile Eurofins Scientific has bought Lancaster, a contract testing laboratory, for $200 million. Lancaster made $115 million in sales in 2010 and employs 1100 people in the US and Ireland.

Virtual conference on women in chemistry

There’s been a lot of talk about how to increase the number of women in the board room recently. In the UK, an independent review has suggested that the biggest companies should be aiming for boards comprising at least 25 per cent women by 2015, and that the pressure should come from investors because of the business benefits this would bring. Meanwhile, ‘Women in Chemistry’ is one of the themes of the International Year of Chemistry (IYC).

Chemical major Dow has put the two together, and, in conjunction with the IYC, is running a ‘virtual conference’ on how to increase female leadership in chemistry. But how does the Dow board stand up to scrutiny? Well, at first glance, it looks relatively progressive: of 12 members there are three women, equivalent to 25 per cent. But things are less inspiring at senior management level. Of the 20 corporate officers, just two are women. And the executive leadership committee has just one woman among its 14 members.

The same trend can be seen at DuPont, which has four women among its 13 board members but only three among its 25 executives. But it should probably get a special mention for having a female chief executive, Ellen Kullman, number eight on the 2010 list of the most powerful women in business compiled by UK daily newspaper Financial Times.

Andrew Turley

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