Novartis expands generics business with $1.5 billion purchase – new Gaucher drug – And DSM buys medical business

PHARMACEUTICALNovartis is expanding its generics activities with the purchase of US firm Fougera, which specialises in dermatology drugs. Novartis will pay $1.5 billion (£930 million) in cash for Fougera, currently owned by a group of private equity firms. The company already has a large presence in the generics industry through Sandoz, its generics subsidiary, which made 2011 sales of $9.5 billion. It says that the addition of Fougera, which made 2011 sales of $430 million, will make Sandoz the number one generics manufacturer in the dermatology area. Fougera employs 700 people across two main sites in New York, US.

PHARMACEUTICALUS authorities have approved a new treatment for Gaucher’s disease: Elelyso (taliglucerase alfa) injections from Pfizer and Protalix. The dominant player in this area is Genzyme with its Cerezyme (imiglucerase) injections, approved way back in 1994. The Cerezyme brand has generated a lot of sales for Genzyme, $720 million in 2010, but the company has struggled to meet demand since a viral infection at its primary manufacturing site halted supply in 2009. Like Cerezyme injections, Elelyso injections are an enzyme replacement therapy, containing a form of human lysosomal enzyme glucocerebrosidase. But they’re quite distinct in another way: the active agent is the first of any for the treatment of any condition that is made from plants as biological factories. In this case, carrots cells have been genetically engineered to mass produce the foreign compound as they grow and divide. Pfizer gave a heavy nod to the supply problems at Genzyme in its press release: ‘To help minimize the possibility of supply disruptions, Pfizer is launching the “Supply Continuity Program,” which will endeavour to maintain a continuously restocked 24 months of supply at various stages of production for US patients prescribed Elelyso.’

CHEMICAL – Netherlands speciality chemical company DSM is set to buy US medical devices company Kensey Nash for $360 million. Kensey Nash specialises in regenerative medicine based on collagen and synthetic polymers. It employs 325 people, made 2011 sales of $72 million and is best known for its arterial closure device. DSM is looking to build a strong position in bio-passive (medical coatings and polymers) bio-active (resorbable polymers and drug delivery) and bio-interactive (regenerative medicine and tissue engineering) materials.

CHEMICAL – German chemical giant BASF has bought the polyamide (PA) polymer business of the Mazzaferro Group, strengthening its position in ‘engineering’ plastics and polyamide polymers in South America. The companies have agreed not to disclose financial details of the deal. BASF will take control of the polymerisation plant at São Bernardo do Campo in the metropolitan area of São Paulo, which has a capacity of roughly 20,000 metric tons per year. About 100 employees will transfer to BASF.

CHEMICAL – A new organisation has been established by the major photovoltaics manufacturers to ‘expand the global deployment of solar energy in a sustainable and cost-competitive way’. The Global Solar Council will be headed by Roland-Jan Meijer, who said: ‘The Global Solar Council is an important and timely industry initiative. It demonstrates a strong commitment by key players in the sector to work together to continue to make solar energy a global success.’ Applied Materials, Dow Corning, DuPont, First Solar, Lanco Solar, Phoenix Solar and Suntech have helped found the organisation, which will be complementary to regional trade associations.

Andrew Turley

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