Takeda to shed 2800 jobs – FDA approves Voraxaze but rejects dapagliflozin – BASF and Philips light up auto market with OLEDs

PHARMACEUTICAL - Japanese drugmaker Takeda has announced that it intends to cut 2800 positions worldwide, around 9% of its workforce, as part of consolidation to make efficiency savings after its takeover of Nycomed in September last year. The majority of job losses will be in Europe and the US. For more details, see the full Chemistry World story here.

PHARMACEUTICAL - The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Voraxaze (glucarpidase) from UK company BTG. The drug is based on a carboxypeptidase enzyme and eliminates toxic levels of the chemotherapy drug methotrexate in the blood of patients whose kidneys fail during treatment. Voraxaze breaks down methotrexate into metabolites that can be cleared more easily via the liver.

PHARMACEUTICAL - The news was less good for Astrazeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb though, as the FDA rejected their application for diabetes drug dapagliflozin. The FDA response cites a need for more safety data (possibly involving new clinical trials), highlighting a small but significant increased risk of bladder and breast cancer in patients taking the drug. Dapagliflozin inhibits sodium-glucose cotransporter 2, which helps reabsorb glucose in the kidney that would otherwise end up in urine. Inhibiting it, therefore, lowers blood glucose levels. The drug is part of a new family of drugs in trials exploiting this mechanism of action. Johnson & Johnson’s canagliflozin is in Phase II trials.

PHARMACEUTICAL - Pfizer and Medivation have finally abandoned development of Dimebon (latrepirdine) after a string of poor trial performances. The drug caused something of a stir in 2009 when it promised a new mechanism of action for treating Alzheimer’s disease. But subsequent trials have failed to show statistically significant results and the companies have decided to pull the plug on developing the drug for all indications. ‘We recognize Alzheimer’s is a very complex disease,’ said Steven Romano, head of Pfizer’s medicines development group. ‘Despite this disappointing result, Pfizer remains committed to advancing the science of Alzheimer’s disease, with the ultimate goal of delivering innovative and meaningful new treatment options to patients.’

Transparent OLED solar panel

Transparent OLED solar panel

CHEMICAL BASF has teamed up with Philips to develop organic light emitting diode (OLED) lights for cars, built into transparent roof panels. But as well as ‘allowing the driver to enjoy a unique open-space feeling’ during the day and illuminating the vehicle at night, the panels will incorporate transparent solar cells to generate electricity.

CHEMICAL - The largest producer of biodiesel in the US, Renewable Energy Group, has gone public with an initial public offering aimed at raising $7.2 million (£4.6 million). The company says it plans to use the money to optimise and grow its biodiesel business, but also to diversify into renewable chemicals and additional advanced biofuels, and to expand internationally. The company produces biodiesel from low cost feedstocks, including inedible animal fat, used cooking oil and inedible corn oil. As such it believes it has an advantage over other biodiesel producers, particularly those that rely on higher cost virgin vegetable oils, such as soybean oil.

Phillip Broadwith

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