Eastman buys Solutia – Drug company pact to target neglected diseases – And Pfizer birth control pill recall

CHEMICAL – US chemical company Eastman has bought Solutia for $4.7 billion (£3 billion). The move will strengthen Eastman’s presence in emerging markets, particularly the Asia Pacific market. It will also save the two companies $100 million per year through ‘cost synergies’. Solutia was spun off from agrichemical giant Monsanto in 1997. It employs 3400 people in the production of a wide range of chemical products, including synthetic rubber, polymers and coatings.

PHARMACEUTICAL – A group of 13 pharma companies, three national governments and several global health organisations has come together to target 10 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) with $785 million in R&D funding. The group aims to ‘accelerate progress toward eliminating or controlling 10 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by the end of the decade’. It includes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which will contribute $363 million over five years.

PHARMACEUTICAL – Pfizer is to recall hundreds of packs of birth control pills after it discovered a ‘packaging error’ that could leave women ‘without adequate contraception and at risk of unintended pregnancy’. The recall affects 28 lots of norgestrel and ethinyl estradiol pills. The company says that the error does not pose any immediate health risks.

CHEMICAL – Netherlands life and material sciences company DSM has signed a deal with ethanol manufacturer Poet to create a $250 million joint venture. The new entity, Poet–DSM Advanced Biofuels, will start producing cellulosic ethanol from corn crop residue using enzyme hydrolysis followed by fermentation in the second half of 2013. The plant will have the capacity to produce 25 million gallons per year. The two parent companies will each have a 50% stake in it.

CHEMICAL – Swiss speciality chemical company Clariant has developed a chemical process for tanning leather that it says uses 80% less salt and 50% less water than traditional tanning processes making it simpler, safer and more environmentally friendly. The company says it represents the first ‘fundamental’ advance in tanning for 125 years. The EasyWhite Tan process is suitable for shoe upper leather and automotive upholstery, which is currently dependent on chrome-free aldehyde processes. It is based on an ‘organic self-reactive compound’ developed by Clariant.

GREENTECH – Danish industrial enzymes company Novozymes is to collaborate with Indian start-up Sea6 Energy on enzymes for making fuel ethanol, fine chemicals and proteins from seaweed. Sea6 specialises in growing seaweed offshore in large quantities with low costs. According to Novozymes, seaweed represents an attractive source of raw materials because more than half of its dry mass is sugar. Furthermore, it grows fast, doesn’t need irrigation or fertiliser and doesn’t take up arable land.

Andrew Turley

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