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Scrap patents for HIV–aids drugs? – Stem cell drug approved – And expect chemical ‘mega acquisition’ in 2012
PHARMACEUTICAL – Here is a bold suggestion. A US senator says that the US should scrap the patent system for HIV–aids drugs, thereby slashing costs in one swift move by ending the ‘legal monopolies’ enjoyed by the companies that make them. Drugs can be very expensive – notoriously so – says Bernie Sanders, senator for Vermont. And why should that be? It’s the patents that give individual companies marketing exclusivity for many years after approval. So let’s get rid of them. The US should create a $3 billion (£2 billion) annual prize fund to reward the discovery of new treatments instead, he says. The prize fund idea appears to have the backing of Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz – but it’s hard to imagine it winning much support with the pharma industry.
PHARMACEUTICAL – Is this the first drug based on stem cells to win marketing approval? The authorities in Canada have Prochymal (remestemcel-L) doses from US biotech Osiris Therapeutics, which says that this historic move is the first approval of a stem cell product. Prochymal (remestemcel-L) doses, which are administered through an intravenous line, contain mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) gathered from the bone marrow of healthy adults and grown up in culture. MSCs are already used before in treatment but they have not previously been available in a off-the-shelf product that doctors can use whenever they need to. The doses are approved for the management of acute graft-versus-host disease in children. The disease is a complication of bone marrow transplantation.
CHEMICAL – DuPont has completed its $295 million project to double production capacity of its polyvinyl fluoride (PVF) film for photovoltaic cells. The company is expecting demand to grow having recently signed supply contracts with several large solar panel manufacturers. For example it recently signed a $100 million strategic agreement with Yingli Green Energy. PVF films are used in the backsheets of photovoltaic cells.
CHEMICAL – According to new analysis, the European chemical industry will be dominated by: green products such as bioplastics, high demand for innovative chemicals and materials; and industry consolidation. Meanwhile, weight management and heart and digestive health will be the high growth sectors in the food and drink industries. The report from market research firm Frost & Sullivan says that China, Brazil and Russia are the top priority regions for companies involved in construction and utilities, while India becomes more important than Russia as you move towards transport owing to massive growth in automotive production. China in particular will draw in strong chemicals investment with its far reaching development of green technology in recent years. The report predicts a ‘mega acquisition of a top 100 global chemicals company headquartered in Europe’ in 2012, despite a fall in the number of deals as a result of the lower availability of cash.
CHEMICAL – Japanese chemical firm Kuraray has struck a deal to acquired a US manufacturer of polyvinyl alcohol film: MonoSol. Kuraray has previously stated that it is keen to expand its ‘vinyl acetate chemical chains business’, which it sees as a core activity. MonoSol makes polyvinyl alcohol film for a range of applications including: packaging for single dose detergent products and moulds for synthetic marble. The companies have not released financial details of the deal.