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LyondellBasell completes sale of flavours and fragrances

US chemical company LyondellBasell has completed the sale of its flavours and fragrances unit to Pinova Holdings. LyondellBasell says the deal is going to generate $150 million (£97 million). The unit employs 200 staff at two sites in the US and produces terpene fragrance and flavour ingredients for the oral-care, confectionery and beverage markets. It will operate under the name Renessenz in the future. Pinova supplies wood and gum rosin and polyterpene resin speciality chemicals.

LyondellBasell is recovering from  a difficult time. It entered chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2009 when falling demand and failure to renegotiate debts forced it to seek protection. It exited in April, and in October it listed its shares on the New York Stock exchange.

Dey Pharma settles pricing allegations with $280m

US pharmaceutical company Dey Pharma has agreed to pay $280 million to settle allegations that the company: ‘engaged in a scheme to report false and inflated prices for numerous pharmaceutical products, knowing that federal health care programs relied on those reported prices to set payment rates’. The following drugs were allegedly affected: albuterol sulfate, albuterol MDI, cromolyn sodium and ipratropium bromide. (more…)

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PHARMACEUTICAL

Royal appointment for Pfizer

Pfizer has agreed to buy King Pharmaceuticals for $3.6 billion (£2.3 billion) in cash, equivalent to $14.25 per share. According to the US pharma giant, the deal represents a 40-per-cent premium based on the price on 11 October.

‘We are highly impressed by King’s innovative products and technology in the pain relief disease area, as well as by its success in advancing promising compounds in its pipeline,’ said Jeffrey Kindler, Pfizer chief executive. The company says the deal will bring cost savings of at least $200 million by the end of 2013.

King is a traditional pharma company that works with small molecules, which makes this an interesting move for Pfizer. The big pharma players are typically chasing biotechs to refill their pipelines. The reason? The large molecule drugs developed at biotechs are arguably likely to be less adversely affected by generic competition. King is perhaps best known for buying Alpharma for $1.6 billion in 2008, giving it access to Embeda (morphine-naltrexone), a pain reliever for patients in need of around-the-clock treatment. (more…)

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070727_PetroChina_Crop_standard

Some media outlets such as UK National Public Radio (NPR), have reported that Chinese economic growth is showing signs of cooling off. And as if to verify those claims, oil and gas producer and distributor PetroChina has reported that its refining and chemical business has seen a 68 per cent fall in operating profits for the first half year ending 30 June, to Yuan5.46 billion (£500 million) compared with the same period last year, despite sales rising 47.5 per cent to Yuan320 billion.

The fall in operating profits has been attributed to a rise in crude oil prices, a rise in inflation, the implementation by the Chinese government of a series of economic policies and a decrease in market prices.

PetroChina expects the economy in China to sustain rapid growth that will in turn drive demand for petroleum and petrochemical products.

(more…)

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bayer

It seems that carbon nanotubes are making waves everywhere these days, and in collaboration with kayak manufacturer Re-Turn, Bayer MaterialScience could soon be making waves in the ocean.

By coating the outer skin of kayaks and canoes with carbon nanotubes, the hull becomes much more resilient to abrasion and damage from UV light. (more…)

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Times are changing for BP, and due to the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico the company has just reported a record quarterly loss for a British company, prompting the board to decide it was time for a new chief executive and that it needed to sell off more of its assets to pay for the spill.

Despite the bad publicity the company has been receiving, its underlying performance was very positive with second quarter sales reaching $73.7 billion (£47.2 billion), a 34 per cent increase compared to its sales during the same period in 2009. But a $32.2 billion charge relating to the Gulf of Mexico spill more than wiped out its operating profits and caused the company to record a net loss for the quarter of $17.2 billion.

This has led the company to increase the scale of its asset sale programme from $10 billion to $30 billion over the next 18 months which ‘will leave the company with a smaller but higher quality exploration and production business’.

As of the start of October, Tony Hayward, the incumbent chief executive, is to be replaced by Robert Dudley an executive director at the company and former president of its TNK-BP joint venture in Russia.

‘The tragedy of the Macondo well explosion and subsequent environmental damage has been a watershed incident,’ said BP’s chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg.

‘BP remains a strong business with fine assets, excellent people and a vital role to play in meeting the world’s energy needs. But it will be a different company going forward, requiring fresh leadership supported by robust governance and a very engaged board.’ (more…)

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In today’s Commercial Chemist, we cover Astellas buy-out of OSI and discuss how Pfizer plans to streamline its manufacturing facilities – a process that will see the company shed 6000 jobs.

PHARMACEUTICALS

OSI agrees to Astellas buyout

flomax

After a 2 month courtship, cancer specialist OSI has relented to Astellas’s advances and agreed to be bought by Japan’s third-largest drugmaker for $4 billion (£2.8 billion) in cash – an 11 per cent increase on Astellas’s original offer. The deal will see Astellas get its hands on OSI’s blockbuster cancer drug Tarceva (erlotinib) and will help it cope with losing patent protection for its prostate drug Flomax (tamsulosin) and its immunosuppressant drug Prograf (fujimycin).

‘The merger with OSI provides Astellas with a top-tier oncology platform in the U.S and an expanded product portfolio and pipeline,’ said Masafumi Nogimori, chief executive of Astellas. ‘In addition to Tarceva, we are pleased to add its oncology infrastructure, discovery platform, expanded pipelines and talent base to our existing businesses.’ (more…)

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auf der lauer

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, has made an equity investment in the chemical simulation company Schrödinger. Founded in 1990, the company has developed software that it says has been used in nearly every major pharmaceutical company to assist their pharmaceutical and biotechnology research programmes.

According to the press release the investment is intended to enable Schrödinger to improve the state of the art in computer-aided drug design.

Hopefully, any drugs developed will leave Schrödinger’s cat alive and well… (more…)

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This week has seen researchers describe how they have solved one the mysteries surrounding how the anti-leprosy drug thalidomide causes devastating birth defects. As reported in Chemistry World, the drug binds to cereblon, a protein that is particularly important in limb development. Hopefully, the research can help identify any future drug candidates that could cause similar problems before they reach the market. (more…)

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Happy new year to one and all. While many have greeted the news that the swine flu (H1N1) pandemic is abating, those in the vaccine industry won’t have appreciated the news that France has decided to join Germany and the Netherlands in saying that they had ordered too many doses of vaccine against the H1N1 swine flu virus and would be cancelling orders and trying to sell surplus doses.

The French government made the decision after the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) said that most people would need only one dose, rather than two, to gain immunity. So far, the French government has used less than 10 per cent of the 94 million doses it ordered at a cost of around €869 million (£777 million) causing the French opposition party to call for an inquiry into the ‘fiasco’.

wodarg

Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is to hold an emergency debate into the ‘influence’ exerted by drugmakers on the World Health Organisations (WHO) global H1N1 flu campaign. The motion for the debate, led by Wolfgang Wodarg, chairman of the PACE health committee, states that: ‘in order to promote their patented drugs and vaccines against flu, pharmaceutical companies have influenced scientists and official agencies, responsible for public health standards, to alarm governments worldwide.’

‘They have made them squander tight health care resources for inefficient vaccine strategies and needlessly exposed millions of healthy people to the risk of unknown side-effects of insufficiently tested vaccines.’ (more…)

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chemworld-paths_tcc-copy5

This week has seen the Chinese authorities execute two people convicted of being involved in the sale of infant milk powder adulterated with melamine last year. The contaminated milk has been linked with the death of six infants and more than 300,000 cases of illness. The melamine was added to the milk to boost its apparent protein content.

According to the Shijiazhuang Municipal Intermediate People’s Court, Zhang Yujun was executed for the crime of endangering public safety by dangerous means, and Geng Jinping was put to death after being convicted of producing and selling toxic food.

The melamine scandal led the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to recommend that pharmaceutical products from China should be tested for melamine. (more…)

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