Novartis to cut jobs and close more sites – Lilly withdraws sepsis drug – And China moves to protect its caprolactam industry (more…)

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CHEMICAL: Ashland buys ISP for $3.2 billion

US chemical company Ashland and International Specialty Products (ISP) have agreed to a deal that will see Ashland buy ISP for $3.2 billion (£2 billion) in cash.

In the year ending 31 March 2011, ISP generated sales of $1.6 billion. Ashland says that it expects the deal to ‘significantly strengthen’ its patent portfolio and team of R&D scientists. (more…)

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PHARMACEUTICAL: US all clear for Tradjenta

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved Tradjenta (linagliptin) for the treatment of diabetes. The drug is the result of a collaboration between German drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim and US pharma giant Eli Lilly. (more…)

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CHEMICAL: BP a year after the disaster

It’s been a year since the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, and a lot has happened. BP is arguably a shadow of its former self, its reputation severely damaged. The BP share price is down by about a third compared with one year ago. The company has reported losses running into billions of US dollars as a result of fines and clean up costs. And the names at the top have changed. (more…)

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Safety concerns for anti cancer agent

Pharma companies Eli Lilly and Bristol-Myers Squibb have announced that one of their two joint global Phase III trials of necitumumab, an investigational anti cancer agent for the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) have stopped enrolling patients.

The Inspire trial is looking at the addition of necitumumab – a monoclonal antibody – to two chemotherapy drugs Alimta (pemetrexed) and cisplatin, compared to a control of just cisplatin and Alimta as a first-line treatment for patients with advanced nonsquamous NSCLC.

The decision to stop enrolment came after safety concerns arose relating to blood clots in the experimental arm of the study. Necitumumab is still being studied in a second Phase III trial named Squire in combination with Gemzar (gemcitabine) and cisplatin for the treatment of squamous NSCLC. But no safety concerns for this trial have been raised. (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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Abbott wins approval for dissolving implant

Pharma major Abbott has been granted EU approval for ‘the world’s first drug eluting bioresorbable vascular scaffold’ for the treatment of coronary artery disease. The scaffold restores blood flow in clogged vessels by providing support for the walls of the structure. But it is made of polylactide, which means it should dissolve within two years of insertion, unlike a metal scaffold, which would be permanent. The company says that after the implant dissolves blood vessels treated with the scaffold might regain the ability to move, flex and pulsate in a similar way to untreated vessels. In addition, the scaffold releases Zortress (everolimus), a Novartis drug that suppresses the immune system to reduce the risk of rejection. (more…)

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PHARMACEUTICAL 

Pfizer to divest Capsugel?

Pfizer has said it is ‘reviewing strategic alternatives’ for drug delivery unit Capsugel and raised the possibility of divestiture. In 2009, the unit generated sales of $740 million (£460 million). Pfizer expects to give the results of its review process by the end of the first quarter of 2011.

US approval for Kombiglyze XR

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted market approval to the combination diabetes candidate Kombiglyze XR (saxagliptin-metformin). The candidate, developed by AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb, is a combination of the dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitor saxagliptin, marketed by Bristol-Myers Squibb as Onglyza, and metformin, a commonly used glucose lowering drug. Onglyza was approved in the US for type 2 diabetes in July 2009. It made sales of $85 million in the first nine months of this year. (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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PHARMACEUTICAL

Lilly goes for diabetes in China

US pharma company Eli Lilly is planning to open a research centre in Shanghai, China, that will focus on new medicines for the treatment of diabetes.

‘We are establishing this research centre, first and foremost, to meet the growing unmet medical needs of those living in China with diabetes,’ said Jan Lundberg, executive vice president, science and technology. The company says that diabetes is a growing problem in China due to longer life expectancy, dietary changes and lack of exercise.

The new centre will employ 100 scientists and support staff, mostly hired from within China. Lilly says that, since the late 1990s, it has invested more than ¥2 billion (£190 million) in the country. (more…)

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