The Commercial Chemist – Friday edition



Syngenta plans $1bn African business – Plavix patent expires – And DSM buys omega-3 company

CHEMICAL – Swiss agrichemical giant Syngenta has announced plans to create a $1 billion (£600 million) business in Africa over the next 10 years. ‘This engagement has been catalysed by the encouraging steps taken by a number of African governments to stimulate investment,’ said Syngenta chief executive Mike Mack. ‘We intend to play a leading role in public-private collaborations, which will be essential to making a planned transformation actually happen on the ground.’ Syngenta expects to invest $500 million gradually over the period, as well as hiring and training 700 new employees. It target is to reach five million farmers and enable them to improve their productivity by at least 50 percent.

PHARMACEUTICAL – Time has run out for the Plavix (clopidogrel) brand – the key patents have expired and Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi, which currently market anti-clotting Plavix tablets, will now face generic erosion of their sales. Clopidogrel is one of the biggest selling drugs of the last 20 years. And despite generic competition in some regions, such as India, it is still a huge drug in terms of sales: in 2011, it generated sales of $7.1 billion for Bristol-Myers Squibb and €410 million for Sanofi. But those good sales are now likely to fall dramatically. Dr Reddy’s, Gate, Mylan, Teva, Apotex, Aurobindo, Roxane, Sun Pharma and Torrent have all received approval to sell generic versions in the US, where clopidogrel is approved for treating patients who have recently had a heart attack or a stroke, or have partial or total blockage of an artery.

CHEMICAL – Netherlands speciality chemical company DSM has struck a deal to buy Ocean Nutrition Canada – a manufacturer of omega-3 fatty acids – for C$540 million (£340 million).  Ocean Nutrition Canada extracts omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil. The acids are well known for their diverse health benefits and as such widely used in food, drink and dietary products. The company is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and employs 415 people. DSM already makes docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid, plus arachidonic acid (ARA), a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid, both from microbial sources. But it says that the markets for naturally occurring compounds of this type and equivalents from microbial sources are very different and as such the newly acquired products will not compete with its established portfolio. The move follows similar activity in this area very recently. Earlier this month, BASF announced its deal to buy UK omega-3 fatty acid manufacturer Equateq, which specialises in pharmaceuticals and dietary supplements.

CHEMICALDow has bought Lightscape Materials, a privately owned US company with intellectual property in phosphor technology for LEDs, for an undisclosed amount. The company was established by Gerard Frederickson and Yongchi Tian, who will continue as part of the Dow team, and a spin-off from SRI International, a non-profit US contract research institute based in California, US. Phosphors are used in LED lighting applications when colour quality is more important, such as in backlighting for LCD displays and illumination of residential, workplace and retail spaces. They enable the LED to create a wide spectrum of white light.

PHARMACEUTICAL – Indian healthcare company Piramal has signed a deal to by US market research firm Decision Resources for $635 million. Decision Resources sells information relating to the global healthcare industry, focusing on three market segments: biopharmaceuticals; ‘market access’ databases and analytical services; and medical devices. with predicted 2012 sales of $160 million.

Andrew Turley

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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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