The Commercial Chemist



Takeda buys gout drug company for $800m – US approves new imaging drug – And EMA supports trial data access

PHARMACEUTICAL – Japanese drug maker Takeda has signed an $800 million (£500 million) deal to buy privately owned US company URL Pharma. URL Pharma is a pharmaceutical company with 2011 calendar year revenues of nearly $600 million. The top URL brand is Colcrys (colchicine) for treating and preventing gout, a condition caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood leading to the formation of crystals in joints, tendons and surrounding tissues. Colcrys products generated sales of over $430 million in 2011. URL employs about 500 people.

PHARMACEUTICAL – A new drug for use in positron emission tomography (PET) to help evaluate whether a person has Alzheimer’s disease has been approved in the US. Amyvid injections contain florbetapir F-18, which binds to the amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease and contains radioactive fluorine-18. Clinicians can use these injections to measure the density of amyloid plaques in the brain using PET. Amyloid plaques are clumps of abnormal β-amyloid protein. A negative Amyvid scan indicates few plaques and reduces the likelihood that any observed cognitive impairment is a result of Alzheimer’s disease. The drug was developed by Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, which was bought by Eli Lilly in December 2010 in deal worth up to $800 million.

CHEMICAL – DuPont has opened a $40 million plant genetics R&D site in the US. The site – in Johnston, Iowa – will create 400 jobs focused on the development of new genetically modified crop varieties. DuPont says that it will invest $10 billion globally in R&D focused on food, agriculture and nutrition by the end of 2020.

PHARMACEUTICAL – The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has given its support for free and public access to all clinical trial data associated with approved treatments. In a perspective published in the journal PLoS Medicine, regulators at the EMA say that it is ‘neither desirable nor realistic to maintain the status quo of limited availability of regulatory trials data’. Clinical trial data should not be thought of as ‘commercial confidential information’ and drug companies and regulators should not have a monopoly on crunching the data, they add. But appropriate measures would have to be put in place to first maintain patient confidentiality and prevent misuse of data by rival companies.

PHARMACEUTICAL – US biotech Amgen has signed a deal to buy privately owned drug development company KAI Pharmaceuticals for $315 million. The move will give Amgen access to KAI-4169, a Phase II drug candidate for treating secondary hyperparathyroidism in patients on dialysis with chronic kidney disease. Secondary hyperparathyroidism is excessive secretion of parathyroid hormone by the parathyroid glands in response to hypocalcaemia, a disorder often seen in patients with chronic kidney disease. KAI-4169 is a peptide agonist of the calcium sensing receptor, which affects calcium levels by modulating the release of parathyroid hormone.

Andrew Turley

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Tobacco firms to report cigarette chemicals – Dow to cut 900 jobs – And Valeant moves to Montreal (more…)

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US approves new anaemia drug – Seroquel patent row continues – And Dow partners with Oz university (more…)

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PCSK9 inhibitors for cholesterol problems perform well – $500m for Ista – And light materials from Bayer (more…)

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AbbVie emerges from Abbott split – EPA proposes new rules for 5 chemicals – And UK court rules against Seroquel XR patent

PHARMACEUTICAL – A £200 million biotechnology and life sciences research fund has been launched in the UK by the Wellcome Trust. The fund will invest in ‘promising healthcare businesses’, typically at an early stage of their development. It will be led by Nigel Keen, who is chair of several technology companies in the healthcare and electronics industries, including Oxford Instruments, Laird and Bioquell.

PHARMACEUTICAL – US healthcare giant Abbott has renamed the branded drugs part of its business following its decision to split that part from the medical devices part – creating two separate organisations. The new pharma company, to be launched by the end of 2012, will be called AbbVie, while the medical devices company – which will include the generic drugs and food supplements portfolio – will inherit the existing Abbott name. Richard Gonzalez, currently executive vice president for global pharmaceuticals, will become chief executive and chair of AbbVie.

CHEMICAL – The US Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new rules that would force companies to report any new uses that arise in relation to a group of potentially harmful chemicals: polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs); benzidine dyes; a ‘short chain chlorinated paraffin’; hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD); and di-n-pentyl phthalate (DNPP). These chemicals have been used in a range of consumer products and industrial applications, including: paints; printing inks; pigments and dyes in textiles; flame retardants in flexible foams; and plasticisers. And although most of them are no longer made or used in the US, they can still be imported in consumer goods or for use in new products.

PHARMACEUTICALAstraZeneca is ditching TC-5214, a drug candidate it licensed from US pharma company Targacept in 2009 under a deal worth up to $740 million (£470 million), $200 million of which AstraZeneca paid up front. The two companies were interested using TC-5214, an enantiomer of mecamylamine, as a treatment for depression. But recent trials have returned poor results, and AstraZeneca now says that it is not going to pursue marketing approval for the drug candidate. The move will cost the company $50 million in intangible assets.

CHEMICALDow has opened a new R&D site in Hwaseong in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea. The site has room for 300 researchers and will become the global hub for organic light-emitting diode (OLED) research at Dow. In addition to OLED research, the site will focus on lithography, display materials and advanced chip packaging. The company says that it has now invested more than $400 million in semiconductor, display and LED technology in Korea over the last decade.

PHARMACEUTICAL – Irish pharma major Shire has signed a $190 million deal with Heptares for rights to A2A antagonists discovered by the company. Adenosine A2A is a G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) involved in regulating dopamine in the brain. There is evidence that inhibiting the receptor may be useful in the treatment of central nervous system disorders. Shire says that this is the first time a ‘structure based’ drug discovery approach has been applied – from the outset – to a GPCR drug target.

PHARMACEUTICALAstraZeneca has lost out in a UK legal dispute over its Seroquel XR (quetiapine) ‘extended release’ brand. The company will lose protection for its initial quetiapine patents in only a few days. However, it has another patent describing an ‘extended release’ formulation of the drug, which would have extended its exclusivity until 2017. Now, a UK court has ruled that patent invalid in a case brought by a group of generics manufacturers. The company says that, in similar cases elsewhere, the courts have validated the extended patent. The Seroquel brand is an important part of the AstraZeneca portfolio – it generated $4.3 billion (£2.7 billion) in global sales in 2011.

CHEMICAL – Electronics giant Sony is looking to sell its chemicals business – Sony Chemical & Information Device Corporation (SCID) – to Japanese state owned company the Development Bank of Japan. SCID makes a range of adhesive and optical materials for use in electronic and magnetic components for modern devices, such as smart phones and tablet computers. The two parties have not yet confirmed any financial terms of the deal.

Andrew Turley

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ECHA looks at chromium VI in leather products – Sanofi buys blood vessel blocking gel – And generic Lexapro arrives (more…)

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AstraZeneca takes on FDA over Seroquel – Pfizer ditches Indian insulin biosimilars deal – And UK launches CCS competition (more…)

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GSK to launch apprenticeship scheme – Chemical in consumer products study – And BPA linked to heart disease? (more…)

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Alcohol dependence drug shows promise in Phase III – Evonik sells colourants – And the ECHA highlights SVHC products (more…)

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Genzyme brings new Fabrazyme plant online – Clariant site to create 500 R&D jobs – And new vaccines venture in Japan (more…)

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