Novartis to restructure

Swiss drugmaker Novartis has announced plans to restructure its operations at its Horsham site in the UK, according to a press release, seen by Chemistry World.

The restructuring could mean that as many as 600 jobs are under threat, and comes a month after the announcement of  the closure of Pfizer’s research and development site in Sandwich, UK, affecting 2,400 jobs.

The restructuring at the Novartis site are part of the company’s ongoing efforts to align resources in the ‘challenging healthcare marketplace’. In the press release, Sue Webb, the company’s general manager and UK & Ireland country president said: ‘With significant changes in healthcare systems aimed to contain or cut cost, this critical assessment and the subsequent potential changes to the Novartis UK organisation are key to maintain significant investment in innovative drugs and our research efforts in the UK.’

Even with the restructuring, Novartis will continue to support its respiratory research group at the Horsham site.

UK first TIC

The UK government has announced the first UK Technology and Innovation centre (TIC), in a bid to underscore its commitment to world leading manufacturing.

The TIC is made up of seven facilities including the advanced manfacturing research centre in Rotherham, the advanced forming research centre at the University of Strathclyde and the national composite centre at the University of Bristol. It will provide an integrated capability and embrace all forms of manufacture using metals and composites, in addition to process manufacturing technologies and bio-processing.

A network of TICs will be established by the Technology Strategy Board, with over £200 million of government investment overall. Other centres will be announced in due course.

‘The announcement of the first Technology and Innovation centre is a major early milestone on our ambition to rebalance the economy,’ says Nick Clegg, UK deputy prime minister.

Standard for mercury pollution

The US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed the first US national standard for mercury, arsenic and other air pollution from power plants in order to protect the public from health problems such as heart attacks, asthma and to help prevent premature death.

The standard would require many power plants to install widely available proven pollution control technologies that cut harmful emissions of mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and acid gases. The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendment mandated that EPA require control of toxic air pollutants, but until now no national standard has been set.

Power plants are the largest remaining source of several toxic air pollutants. In the power sector alone, coal-fired power stations are responsible for 99 per cent of mercury emissions in the US. Once the standard is finalised, it will ensure US power plants that don’t use current pollution technologies (roughly 44 per cent) take steps to reduce dangerous pollutant levels.

End of DEP and DBP manufacture

US-based chemical company Eastman, has announced the discontinuation of manufacture and supply of two of its ortho-phthalate plasticisers, diethyl o-phthalate (DEP) and dibutyl o-phthalate (DBP).

Owing to health concerns such as endocrine disruption (interference with natural hormones in the body), the manufacture of ortho-phthalates are being phased out across the world.

Steve Cullen, Eastman’s business manager for plasticiser strategy, explained that the company now has a broad range of non-phthalate alternatives to meet customer needs. ‘DEP and DBP have been part of our portfolio for many years, but no longer form part of our strategic growth plans or vision for the future,’ he said.

MorphoSys signs with Boehringer

Pharma company Boehringer Ingelheim, based in Germany, has signed a biopharmaceutical manufacturing agreement with biotech company MorphoSys for therapeutic antibodies. The agreement covers the process development and manufacturing of additional clinical material for MorphoSys’s MOR208 programme and other drug candidates. MOR208, a potent monoclonal anti-CD19 antibody, is in development for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and potentially other B-cell malignancies. No financial details have been disclosed regarding the deal.

Mike Brown

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