PPD to go private for $3.9bn – Row about pharmacies and supplements – And nutrient boost broccoli goes on sale in UK

PHARMACEUTICAL – Contract research organisation (CRO) Pharmaceutical Product Development (PPD) has agreed to be bought by two investment firms, Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friedman, in a deal worth $3.9 billion. Under the terms, the firms will buy the remaining PPD shares for $33.25 per share in cash and turn PPD into a private company. The move suggests investors expect outsourcing in the pharma industry to continue as drugmakers seek to mitigate the effects of the patent cliff – the sharp drop in income that companies are expecting soon or already experiencing as patents for their most important drugs expire and generic competition floods the market.

CHEMICAL – German chemical company Evonik has partnered with RusBiotech on the production of L-lysine in Russia using a biotechnological process. L-lysine is an amino acid for animal feed that Evonik markets as Biolys. The joint venture, Russkie Biotechnologii, represents an investment of €150 million and will comprise a new plant in the Rostov region that will start production in 2014 and convert 300,000 tonnes of wheat into Biolys.

CHEMICAL – Cefic (the European Chemical Industry Council) has reduced its prediction for growth in the EU chemical industry for 2011 from 4.5 to 2.5 per cent. The organisation initially predicted growth of 2.5 per cent in November 2010. But in June it changed that prediction to 4.5 per cent. The uncertainty reflects dramatic variations in chemical production rates in 2011 and the ongoing European debt crisis. Data from first seven months of 2011 show that production is 3.2 per cent below that of 2007. But Cefic says it should reach the ‘pre-crisis’ level in mid-2013.

PHARMACEUTICAL – A storm is raging in Australia over the role pharmacies should play in the burgeoning market for dietary supplements. Under a deal struck between the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and ‘natural health’ company Blackmores, pharmacists will promote dietary supplements alongside prescription drugs. When the pharmacist processes a prescription, a new computer system will highlight a supplement that might help to mitigate the side effects. Blackmores chief executive Christine Holgate attracted criticism from doctors and pharmacists when she told Pharmacy News that the deal would allow pharmacies to provide the ‘coke and fries’ with prescription drugs and hand them ‘a new and important revenue stream’.

AGRICHEMICAL – UK shops have started selling hybrid broccoli with two to three times the levels of the phytonutrient glucoraphanin. Broccoli is considered a ‘super’ food because it contains high levels of beneficial compounds. Glucoraphanin occurs naturally in broccoli and is thought to help to explain the link between eating broccoli and lower rates of heart disease and cancer. US agrichemical giant Monsanto owns the rights to the new broccoli, which was developed by UK scientists using conventional breeding techniques rather than genetic modification.

GREENTECH – The US Department of Agriculture has committed $136 million of funding to R&D into aviation biofuels from tall grasses, waste from crop processing and materials from forests. The money will support five projects over a five year period.

Andrew Turley

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