Illumina rejects hostile Roche bid – Merck to submit new insomnia candidate – And Indorama buys Old World

PHARMACEUTICAL – Genome sequencing company Illumina has formally rejected the $5.7 billion (£3.6 billion) hostile takeover bid from Roche which it has described as ‘inadequate’. Chief executive Jay Flatley said: ‘Our industry is nascent, with the promise and potential to experience extraordinary growth in the years ahead as genetic information becomes broadly applied beyond molecular biology research, and into medical diagnostics, reproductive health and cancer management.’ When Roche announced its bid, it stated clearly that it would not raise the offer price. It has responded to the Illumina decision with disappointment. ‘We continue to believe that our offer is full and fair and provides a unique opportunity for Illumina’s shareholders,’ said Roche chief executive Severin Schwan. ‘It remains our preference to enter into a negotiated transaction with Illumina and we stand ready to commence discussions at any time.’

PHARMACEUTICAL – Canadian generics firm Apotex has paid $442 million in damages to Sanofi and Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) for patent infringement relating to blood thinner Plavix (clopidogrel). The payment follows an October 2011 ruling in favour of Sanofi and BMS and marks the end of a decade long legal dispute between the companies. Apotex launched a generic version of Plavix in 2006 when the drug was generating sales of about $4 billion per year but it was forced to halt sales shortly afterwards when the courts granted an injunction.

PHARMACEUTICAL – Merck & Co has decided to submit its anti-insomnia drug candidate suvorexant for regulatory approval in the US on the back of results from two Phase III trials. Suvorexant is an orexin receptor antagonist and would be first in a new class of drugs if approved. The company will present the results at a meeting in 2012. In January 2011, GlaxoSmithKline and Actelion abandoned development of almorexant, another orexin receptor antagonist drug candidate, because of disappointing trial data.

CHEMICAL – AkzoNobel and the University of Manchester, UK, have agreed to work together on new coatings to protect a range of materials from corrosion. AkzoNobel says that globally corrosion is a $2.2 trillion problem and that it makes €1.5 billion (£1.3 billion) in annual sales of corrosion inhibition coatings and speciality chemicals. Stuart Lyon will become the AkzoNobel professor of corrosion control at the school of materials and will oversee the research programme.

PHARMACEUTICAL – GlaxoSmithKline is planning to invest $60 million in its site at Boronia in Victoria, Australia, creating 58 new jobs by 2017. The site manufactures a wide range of drugs and related products, including sterile liquid products made using blow fill seal (BFS) technology. The investment will go towards a doubling of the current BFS manufacturing capacity as well as the creation of a pilot plant for new products developed through the ongoing collaboration with the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

CHEMICAL – Thai polymer manufacturer Indorama is to buy the chemical business of privately owned US company Old World Industries. The consumer products business, comprising antifreeze, automotives oils and other automotive products, will continue as a separate entity. The deal is worth $795 million, according to news reports.

Andrew Turley

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