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ANALYTICAL: Thermo buys Phadia for €2.5 billion
It’s buy, buy, buy at Thermo Fisher, it seems. The laboratory equipment giant has agreed to buy Phadia – which specialises in allergy and autoimmunity diagnostic products – for €2.5 billion (£2.2 million) in cash. The move follows the successful completion of Thermo’s $2.1 billion (£1.3 billion) acquisition of Dionex and a recent deal for UK company Sterilin, which makes single use plastic products for microbiological, life sciences and clinical applications.
Based in Sweden, Phadia markets ImmunoCap branded allergy tests and EliA branded autoimmunity tests. It made 2010 sales of €370 million, and it employs 1500 people. Thermo says that allergy testing represents an attractive, high growth market. In particular, the global market for in vitro allergy testing is growing 9 per cent per year. In addition, the company says that the deal will lead to savings across the combined companies of $35 million by 2014.
Sterilin has 270 staff, and in 2010 it brought in $35 million in sales.
CHEMICAL: Dow partners with renewable start-up
Chemical giant Dow will collaborate with US start-up company OPX Biotechnologies to develop an industrial scale process for the production of acrylic acid – prop-2-enoic acid – from renewable raw materials.
The two companies will look into the viability of fermenting sugar from sources such as corn to make acrylic acid. The product should be a direct replacement for acrylic acid made from petrochemical raw materials, which is currently the norm.
If the project is a success, the companies say they will discuss bringing the new acrylic acid to the market in three to five years.
OPX specialises in biotechnology for turning renewable raw materials into biochemicals and fuels. The company says that its technology platform can be used to engineer microbes and bioprocesses more effectively and efficiently compared with equivalents.
Acrylic acid is used in a wide range of consumer goods, including paints, adhesives and detergents. There are lots of ways of making it, but industrially it is probably made most often by oxidation of propene.
CHEMICAL: Public generally wary of chemicals
What does the public think of chemicals? Not much it seems, according to a survey conducted by the European Chemicals Agency. That perhaps isn’t a huge surprise – the chemical industry has been burdened with a poor public image for much of the modern era. But some of findings stand out nonetheless.
Notably, people are more likely to associate chemical products with negative adjectives, such as ‘dangerous’ and ‘harmful to the environment’, than positive ones, such as ‘useful’ and ‘innovative’.
The ECHA also found that only two thirds of people read the instructions before using a chemical product – and only 7 per cent of those follow the instructions fully.
CHEMICAL: Bio fuelling India’s future
Making biofuels from agricultural waste could create up to one million jobs in India over the next decade, according to a report commissioned by Danish biotech Novozymes, which makes industrial enzymes and micro-organisms.
The Indian government has set itself the target of ensuring that biofuels represents 20 per cent of fuel for transport by 2017. The report says that by 2020 agricultural waste could provide 59 per cent of the required biofuels, helping to improve India’s energy efficiency.
But there are problems to be overcome. At the moment, policy is not well implemented and the necessary infrastructure is lacking. What is more, only 25 per cent of agricultural waste is recovered from the fields.
PHARMACEUTICAL: Avandia pulled from US market
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finally decided to withdraw controversial anti-diabetes drug Avandia (rosiglitazone) from the market because of cardiovascular risks.
In September 2010, the European Medicines Agency ruled it should be pulled and the FDA said it would ‘significantly restrict’ its use. Now, the FDA has decided it should go altogether.
Avandia was once a blockbuster for UK pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline achieving global sales of £1.6 billion in 2006. But concerns over cardiac side effects have caused sales to slide dramatically. In 2010, the drug made just £440 million.