Cancer trial ends early for Bayer – Slashing industry’s water bills – And AkzoNobel to expand in China (more…)

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Why would a drug feature in the treaty that ended the first world war? And what made aspirin so successful as a painkiller? Brian Clegg explains in this week’s Chemistry in its element podcast.



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PHARMACEUTICAL: Merck & Co buys Inspire for $430 million

Drug maker Merck & Co has agreed to buy Inspire Pharmaceuticals, which specialises in eye products, for $430 million (£260 million). The boards of both companies have voted in favour of the deal and the Inspire board has recommended shareholders tender their shares. Investment firm Warburg Pincus Private Equity IX, which owns 28 per cent of Inspire, has agreed to tender all of its shares. The key Inspire product is AzaSite (azithromycin), an eye drop product for the treatment of conjunctivitis caused by bacteria. It is based on azithromycin, a widely used antibiotic that prevents bacteria growth by interfering with protein synthesis. AzaSite was granted US marketing approval in 2007, and in 2010 it generated sales of $43 million, representing a 22 per cent increase compared with 2009. Total sales at Inspire were $106 million in 2010, representing a 15 per cent increase. (more…)

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Six chemicals banned under Reach

The European Commission has moved to ban six chemicals under the Reach (registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals) regulation, marking the start of a new phase in the history of this piece of legislation. Six substances of very high concern (SVHCs) will be banned in the EU within the next three to five years except where special authorisations apply. The following chemicals have been moved from the candidate list to the authorisation list, Annex XIV: 5-tert-butyl-2,4,6-trinitro-m-xylene (‘musk’ xylene), 4,4′-diaminodiphenylmethane, hexabromocyclododecane, bis-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, benzyl butyl phthalate and dibutyl phthalate. More chemicals will make the transfer in the future as part of an ongoing process of assessment. The aim is to ensure that risks from SVHCs are properly controlled and that these substances are gradually replaced by alternatives. There are currently 46 SVHCs on the candidate list. (more…)

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Arena cuts 66 jobs


US company Arena Pharmaceuticals has said it will cut its workforce by about 25 per cent, equivalent to 66 employees, by the end of March. The move will cost the company $3.8 million (£2.4 million) in one-time costs, but it could save $13.5 million per year in the long term. The Arena obesity candidate, Lorqess (locaserin), was refused entry to the US market in October 2010. Arena Pharmaceuticals sold commercialisation rights to Lorqess to Japanese pharma company Eisai for $1.37 billion upfront plus other terms in July 2010. Arena expects to resubmit its application to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of 2011. (more…)

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Bayer and Evogene to work together on GM wheat

German chemical group Bayer has said it will pay $20 million (£13 million) as part of a five-year deal with Israeli plant sciences company Evogene that will see the two develop new genetically modified wheat varieties. In a separate deal, Bayer will buy a $12 million stake in Evogene at a price of $7 per share. The aim of the project will be to improve key characteristics such as yield, drought tolerance and fertiliser utilisation. (more…)

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We’ve had a look at some of the financial results for the third quarter of 2010 already. Here’s the rest of the data. (All percentage changes are based on the same period last year.)

PHARMACEUTICAL

AstraZeneca made sales of $7.9 billion (£5 billion), a 4 per cent decrease. Operating income decreased 25 per cent to $2.4 billion.

Bayer made sales of €8.6 billion (£7.3 billion), a 16 per cent increase. Operating income decreased 14 per cent to €560 million. (more…)

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 PHARMACEUTICAL

Job cuts at Roche…

Swiss pharma major Roche says it will cut 4800 jobs – 6 per cent of its global workforce – in 2011 and 2012. In addition, 800 jobs will be transferred within the organisation and 700 outsourced. The move comes as part of a cost cutting initiative that the company says will save it CHF 2.4 billion (£1.5 billion) annually. But the restructuring will cost Roche CHF 2.7 billion from 2010 to 2012. ‘The initiative is a response to mounting cost pressures in healthcare, particularly in the US and Europe, and to increasing hurdles for the approval and pricing of new medicines,’ the company says. As part of the plan, it will look to sell two US sites – in Florence, South Carolina, and Boulder, Colorado – and close one site in France.

…and Bayer

German pharma and chemical company Bayer is doing likewise, with plans to cut 4500 jobs worldwide by 2012. Meanwhile, 2500 new jobs are to be created ‘particularly in the emerging markets’ so that the net loss will be 2000, 1.8 per cent of the 108,700-strong total workforce. The move will save Bayer €800 million (£685 million) annually from 2013, it says, although a one-off cost of €1 billion is expected by 2012 to cover the restructuring. It adds that ‘sales and earnings are under pressure from generic products, rising development costs and the effects of health care reforms’. (more…)

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PHARMACEUTICAL

Biogen cuts jobs

US biotech Biogen Idec is planning to cut 650 jobs, a 13 per cent reduction of its full time workforce. The company is also planning to shut down its cardiovascular business and either spin-out or out-license its oncology business, while focusing on neurology. Through these changes, the company expects to save $300 million (£180 million) annually, including $85 million from the job cuts. (more…)

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shellgasstation

While times are hard for BP as mentioned in the last edition of the Commercial Chemist, one of its biggest competitors, Shell, seems to be reaping the benefits.

Shell reports a 15 per cent increase in second quarter net profits to $4.39 billion (£2.82 billion) compared to $3.82 billion in the same quarter a year ago, which is a huge contrast to BP’s fortunes.

‘This is a good performance from Shell despite today’s challenging macro economic conditions. We are on track for growth,’ said Shell chief executive Peter Voser, who whilst offering his sympathy for all those affected by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill insisted that deep-water oil production was still vital.

Shell’s net profit, that takes into account the value of inventories of oil and gas, has soared to $4.21 billion in the last three months, whilst their cost saving programmes have led to $3.5 billion in annualised savings.

Shell investments have secured a 5 per cent increase – to 3.1 million barrels – in oil and gas production for the quarter and chemical product sales have increased by 18 per cent compared to the second quarter of 2009. (more…)

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