Dow Corning completes SEED complex – FDA approves Voraxaze – and fracking under fire on both sides of the Atlantic (more…)

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Explosion in China kills 14 – Gilead to buy Pharmasset for $11bn – And Merck to pay $950m in Vioxx case (more…)

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Continuing its push to be the world’s best known chemical company, as well as the biggest, BASF has kicked off a new advertising campaign on televisions around the world. The company says that its We create chemistry campaign is all part of a bid to increase the public’s awareness of the chemical major, as well as influence opinion formers and dabblers in the stock market.

Apparently, after a bit of a hiatus in its global ‘corporate awareness’ campaign, thanks to the global recession, the ads going out now in the UK could reach 26 million people alone. The company is also running TV ads in various other European countries, as well as Turkey, and also in Brazil, the US, China, India, South Korea and Japan. And it has stumped up some serious money to go for prime time slots, including during the rugby world cup.

BASF’s chemicals are formulated into thousands of products, such as paints, paper, concrete and plastics and people come into contact with them every single day. And despite revenues of €63.87 billion (£55.7 billion) – greater than Latvia’s and Estonia’s GDP combined – the chemical giant still seems to be something of an unknown with the general public.

Are you old enough to remember these?

Perhaps among those of us old enough to remember tape decks, this is still our lasting memory of a BASF product.

The ad features the slick production values that you’d expect from a company with the cash to hire the top ad agencies. But does it say enough? I was left with the feeling that I didn’t know much more about the company by the time the ad ended. UK BASF spokesperson Chris Wilson says that the ad isn’t about getting into the minutiae of what the company makes – it’s just about getting people to recognise their name and the industry they’re in. (more…)

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Naphtha from plastic waste – BASF working on cooling stuff with magnetism – And postive opinion for anticancer drug Zytiga 

CHEMICAL – Brazilian petrochemical giant Braskem says that from the end of 2012 it is going to start making naphtha – a broad mix of liquid hydrocarbons – from ‘post-consumption recycled plastic’. It will spend $25 million (£15 million) on a recycling unit from waste treatment company Novaenergia, which will supply the raw material. The unit will process 450 tonnes of waste per day, churning out about 1400 m3 of naphtha per year, as well as fuel oil. And Braskem says it will halve the amount of material that has to be dumped as landfill.

CHEMICAL – Süd-Chemie, a recently acquired subsidiary of Swiss chemical company Clariant, has started building a plant for converting agricultural waste into cellulosic ethanol as part of a €28 million (£25 million) project. The company says that it will be the largest such plant in Germany, producing 1000 tonnes of cellulosic ethanol per year, primarily from wheat straw. The plant will use the ‘Sunliquid’ conversion process, which involves yeasts for biocatalysis and has already been tested at smaller scales.

GREENTECH – US chemical major DuPont has agreed to buy Innovalight, a company specialising in printing technology for silicon based photovoltaics. The companies have not disclosed financial terms. DuPont says it made  sales in 2010 of $1 billion from the photovoltaic market, and is aiming to reach annual sales of $2 billion by 2014.

CHEMICAL – German chemical major BASF is collaborating with the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) in the Netherlands on magnetocaloric materials – which the company says might make refrigeration gases obsolete. Magnetocaloric materials heat up when moved into a magnetic field and cool down when moved out. ‘Theoretical considerations reveal an energy savings potential of up to fifty per cent,’ says Thomas Weber, who heads the Future Business unit at BASF. The two organisations have been working on the materials since 2008 – the latest collaboration is to commercialise the materials, which do not need gaseous refrigerants to work as cooling systems.

PHARMACEUTICAL – US healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson has won a positive opinion in Europe for anticancer drug abiraterone, marketed as Zytiga in the US, where it was approved last month. The drug is for the treatment of prostate cancer. In trials, it has delivered a four month increase in overall survival – from 11 months to 15 – for patients who had already received some form of chemotherapy.

PHARMACEUTICAL – Fampyra (fampridine) from US biotech Biogen Idec has been approved in the EU to help patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) improve their walking. Most patients with MS lose the ability to walk as the disease progresses. The drug was developed by Acorda Therapeutics, which markets it as Ampyra in the US. Biogen Idec is licensed to develop and market fampridine in the rest of the world. The approval is ‘conditional’, meaning it must be renewed annually and more trials are needed. The EU uses conditional approvals to deliver new drugs, with the potential to drastically improve treatment, to the patient population faster than would otherwise be possible. Fampyra improves neurologic function by increasing impulse conduction across demyelinated neurons.

Andrew Turley

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PHARMACEUTICAL: France and Germany pull Actos

Everyone is reporting that French and German authorities have decided to pull diabetes drug pioglitazone from their markets over concerns of a link with bladder cancer. (more…)

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Berkshire Hathaway to acquire Lubrizol

Financial company, Berkshire Hathaway is to acquire 100 per cent of all outstanding shares in chemical company The Lubrizol Corporation for $135 (£84) per share in an all-cash transaction. (more…)

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Willetts discusses Pfizer and Sandwich

What does UK science minister David Willetts have to say about Pfizer’s decision to close its R&D site at Sandwich in the UK, a decision that has put 2400 jobs under threat? He’s been giving evidence to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, which has launched an inquiry. A session that took place earlier this week involved representatives from Pfizer and the RSC. (more…)

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Pandemrix-narcolepsy link

Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) suggests that the link between swine flu vaccine Pandemrix and narcolepsy – a sleeping disorder that leads to extreme fatigue and can cause patients to fall asleep at unexpected times – is high.

Pandemrix was first approved for use by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in 2009 during the H1N1 flu pandemic and was given to over 31 million people. Following concerns about the link to narcolepsy, the EMA carried out a review, but found no evidence to the fact.

Now an interim report by the THL suggests a clear association of Pandemrix and the sleeping disorder among those vaccinated aged between 4 and 19 years old. The report states that the risk of developing narcolepsy is nine times higher for vaccine patients in this age range than people who have not been vaccinated. (more…)

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US loans $405 million to biofuel projects

The US Department of Agriculture has awarded $405 million (£250 million) in loans to three cellulosic ethanol projects. The largest loan, of $250 million, will go towards a biorefinery from US company Coskata that will use woody biomass to make ethanol. In addition, Canadian biofuel company Enerkem will receive $80 million for a biorefinery that uses municipal solid waste and Ineos New Planet BioEnergy – a joint venture of UK chemical major Ineos and New Planet Energy – will receive $75 million for a biorefinery that uses vegetable, yard and wood waste, as well as municipal solid waste. (more…)

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BASF buys Cognis

German chemical company BASF has completed its €3.1 billion (£2.6 billion) purchase of speciality chemical company Cognis, which it agreed to in June. Cognis makes chemicals for industries covering: health and nutrition; cosmetics; mining; agriculture; and detergents and cleaners. It also makes lubricants and coatings. The company employs 5500 people, and in 2009 it made sales of €2.6 billion. (more…)

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