Lipitor patent extension for Pfizer – Patent pool for AIDS drugs set up – $1.4 billion deal for Arch Chemicals – And the biggest fertiliser plant in Africa

PHARMACEUTICAL: Lipitor patent extension for Pfizer

Lipitor (atorvastatin), Pfizer’s cholesterol drug, looks set to be granted a six-month extension of additional exclusivity by EU countries. The extension, in the form of a ‘supplementary protection certificate’ is in exchange for tests that will provide a child-friendly version, as reported by the Financial Times.

Reports suggest that the extension could earn Pfizer an additional $800 million (£500 million) in revenue. In return Pfizer will launch a chewable grape-flavoured low-dose version in November.

The cholesterol beater is already facing rival generics in Spain, Finland and Norway, but it is still under patent elsewhere in the EU. The extension, if granted, will affect at least 11 other EU markets including the UK, France and Germany.

PHARMACEUTICAL: Patent pool for AIDS drugs

Biopharma company Gilead Sciences, the leading maker of HIV drugs, is to share its intellectual property rights on its medicines in a patent pool, designed to make them more accessible to the poor.

Gilead is the first drugmaker to sign up to the scheme – the Medicines Patent Pool – and it is expected that other major pharma companies such as Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche and Boehringer Ingelheim will follow suit.

Around 33 million people suffer from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS. Most live in Africa and Asia, where the medicines are too expensive for the majority of people to afford.

The Medicines Patent Pool was launched by UNITAID health financing and is funded by a tax on airline tickets. It will create a system of patent holders to license technology to makers of cheap generics in exchange for small royalties.

The agreement with Gilead allows the production of generic copies of tenofovir, emtricitabine, cobicistat and elvitegravir, as well as a combination of these in a single HIV pill known as the ‘Quad’.

PHARMACEUTICAL: Sanofi MS drug shines

Sanofi-Aventis and its subsidiary Genzyme have announced top results from a Phase III trial involving Lemtrada (alemtuzumab), their multiple sclerosis (MS) drug.

The first of two trials – CARE-MS 1 – that compares Lemtrada to the already approved MS therapy Rebif (interferon beta-1a) for patients with relapsing-remitting MS, showed a 55 per cent reduction in relapse rate over the two years of the study.

PHARMACEUTICAL: Sanofi sells Dermik to Valeant

Valeant Pharmaceuticals is to buy Sanofi-Aventis’ Dermik skincare business for $425 million, meaning it will have control of brands such as BenzaClin, an acne treatment, and wrinkle filler Sculptra.

The cash deal confirms Sanofi’s intent to divest its dermatology business that has operations concentrated in North America.

CHEMICAL: Lonza buys Arch for $1.4 billion

Life sciences major, Lonza is to acquire biocide specialist Arch Chemicals for $1.4 billion to create the world’s leading microbial control business.

Lonza will buy all outstanding shares in Arch for $47.20 per share in cash. It is expected that the deal with strengthen Lonza’s place in the life sciences sector. ‘Lonza and Arch Chemicals offer highly complementary products and technologies and together will be the global leader in controlling unwanted microbes,’ said Stefan Borgas, Lonza chief executive.

CHEMICAL: Africa’s biggest fertiliser complex

Dangote Group, based in Lagos in Nigeria plans to build Africa’s largest fertiliser plant that will be producing fertiliser by 2014.

Dangote, a business conglomerate that manufactures foodstuffs, polypropylene products and cement amongst others, is set to finance the construction of the plant that will have the capacity for 3,850 metric tonnes of urea a day and is set to make 2,200 tonnes of ammonia a day.

Mike Brown

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