Willetts discusses Pfizer and Sandwich

What does UK science minister David Willetts have to say about Pfizer’s decision to close its R&D site at Sandwich in the UK, a decision that has put 2400 jobs under threat? He’s been giving evidence to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, which has launched an inquiry. A session that took place earlier this week involved representatives from Pfizer and the RSC.

BASF looks to sell fertiliser business

Chemical giant BASF is planning to sell ‘major parts’ of its fertiliser business: production plants in Antwerp, Belgium, and a 50 per cent share of PEC-Rhin, a joint venture with GPN in Ottmarsheim, France. The plants make fertilisers based on calcium ammonium nitrate, ammonium nitrate, nitrophosphoric acid and nitric acid. About 520 employees will be affected. But the company says that these parts of the company contribute less than 1 per cent of total sales.  

Takeda finishes ¥147b R&D site

Japanese drug maker Takeda inaugurated its R&D centre in Shonan, Japan. The new centre will be the ‘core’ of the company’s global research structure, linking Takeda in Japan to its sites in the US, Europe and the rest of Asia. Employees and equipment will be transferred from the R&D sites in Osaka City and Tsukuba City. The company says that the total construction cost was ¥147 billion (£1.1 billion).

Reach registration dossiers fail to impress

Most of the Reach (registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals) registration dossiers evaluated in 2010 had ‘quality problems’, according to a report from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). The first registration deadline passed at the end of 30 November 2010, with 25,000 registration dossiers covering 3400 chemicals submitted by chemical companies operating in the EU. In 2010, the ECHA examined 273 dossiers and found that most fell short of its expectations. But it stressed that these dossiers were among the first to be submitted, and therefore they are not necessarily representative of the total dossiers submitted before the first deadline.

FDA turns down Merck’s oral MS drug

Merck KGaA isn’t having much joy with its oral drug for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS), cladribine. In September, it got a negative opinion from the European Medicines Agency committee that assessed it. And now the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has turned it down for market approval. In contrast, everything seems to be going to plan for Gilenya (fingolimod) from Novartis, another oral drug for the treatment of MS. The drug won FDA approval in January.

Daiichi to buy Plexxikon for $805m

Japanese drug maker Daiichi Sankyo has agreed to buy Plexxikon, a private US pharmaceutical company specialising in oncology, for $805 million (£494 million). Plexxikon has several licensing deals with Swiss pharma company Roche, including one relating to RG7204 (PLX4032) for the treatment of skin cancer. Under the terms of its deal with Daiichi, it could also receive up to $130 million based on milestones reached by the candidate.

Lanxess buys biocides from Syngenta

German synthetic rubber company Lanxess has agreed to buy the ‘material protection’ business of Syngenta. The companies have not disclosed financial details. Lanxess will gain access to fungicidal and insecticidal ingredients, as well as technology for the protection of construction materials, such as wood, plasterboard panels and coatings, from damage and discolouration. The Syngenta material protection business made 2010 sales of around €19 million (£16 million).

Andrew Turley

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