PHARMACEUTICAL: US approval for ipilimumab from BMS

Pharma major Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) has been granted US approval for Yervoy (ipilimumab) for the treatment of skin cancer. In Phase III trials, Yervoy improved overall survival in patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma. BMS says that Yervoy, a human monoclonal antibody that blocks CTLA-4 (Cytotoxic T Lymphocyte Antigen 4), is the first drug from its ‘immuno-oncology’ pipeline to gain the backing of the US Food and Drug Administration. In 2004, it was granted orphan drug status, a designation handed out to boost the availability of drugs for the treatment of rare diseases. And in 2006, it received a fast track status, handed out to speed to market drugs that might address serious and unmet needs.

PHARMACEUTICAL: Biosimilars market will grow 15 fold by 2015

Considerable uncertainty remains over what the biosimilars market is going to look like, particularly with respect to regulation. But the analysts are convinced that it’s going to be big if nothing else. According to market research firm Datamonitor, the global biosimilars market will grow from $243 million (£152 million) in 2010 to $3.7 billion in 2015. That’s a 15 fold increase over just five years. What’s driving that growth? More than 30 branded biologics that together represent sales of $51 billion will lose patent exclusivity over that period, the firm says.

PHARMACEUTICAL: Teva and P&G form partnership

Israeli generics manufacturer Teva has signed up to a partnership with consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) in the area of ‘consumer health’. The two firms will combine their over-the-counter drugs activities in a joint venture with annual sales of over $1 billion. Under the terms of the deal, Teva will take responsibility for manufacturing products for the business.

CHEMICAL: Clariant buys oil services company

Speciality chemicals company Clariant has bought Canadian oil services company Prairie Petro-Chem. Clariant says that the deal ‘significantly enhances’ its presence in Bakken shale, which comes from a region allegedly positioned to become the number one oil and gas producing region in North America. The companies have not disclosed the financial terms of the agreement. Prairie Petro-Chem operates in Weyburn and Oxbow, which are both in Saskatchewan, and in Virden, Manitoba. It made 2010 sales of C$30 million (£19 million). 

CHEMICAL: BH executive resigns following Lubrizol deal

Legendary US investor Warren Buffett has issued a press statement describing the resignation on 28 March of David Sokol, an executive at his investment firm Berkshire Hathaway (BH). It’s of interest to us because BH has just agreed to buy chemical company Lubrizol for $9.7 billion. And because apparently Sokol bought Lubrizol shares before the deal was announced. Specifically, he bought 2300 shares on 14 December, which he sold on 21 December. Then, on 5-7 January, he bought 96,000 shares. A week or so later he brought to Buffet the idea of purchasing Lubrizol. Buffett was initially dismissive, but later warmed to the idea following a report from Sokol. Has something naughty happened here? ‘Neither Dave nor I feel his Lubrizol purchases were in any way unlawful,’ Buffett says. ‘He has told me that they were not a factor in his decision to resign.’

Andrew Turley

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