Company and People Notes: Azopharma Expands Analytical Lab; Inotek Pharma Appoints Paul G. Howes President, CEO, and Director; More...

October 9, 2008
Pharmaceutical Technology Editors
ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

Also, Merck & Co. discontinues development of its obesity drug taranabant; Synthetech names Frederic Farkas director of manufacturing; more...

Company Notes

Paris (Oct. 6)-Alcan Global Pharmaceutical Packaging, a division of Alcan Packaging and a business unit of Rio Tinto Alcan, acquired a flexible packaging plant located in Chakan, India, from Associated Capsules Private (Pune, India). The Chakan facility is 2600 m2 and employs approximately 100 people. Alcan Packaging expects to integrate it into its group in early 2009.

Craigavon, Northern Ireland (Oct. 1)-Almac Sciences, a research and manufacturing services provider, launched a solid state chemistry business. Using analytical research and development technologies at Almac’s Craigavon laboratory complex, the Solid State Chemistry team focuses on solid-form characterization, screening and selection, in addition to crystallization process development.

Thousand Oaks, CA (Oct. 2)-Amgen announced it won a court ruling against Roche relating to Amgen’s erythropoietin (EPO) patents. The US District Court in Boston issued its written decision upholding the prior jury verdict and court rulings regarding the infringement, validity, and enforceability of 10 claims of four of Amgen's EPO patents. The court also ruled that Amgen is entitled to a permanent injunction prohibiting Roche from selling its pegylated-erythropoietin (peg-EPO) product “Mircera” in the US.

Atlanta, GA (Oct. 7)-AtheroGenics, a pharmaceutical company focused on treating chronic inflammatory diseases, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company says the filing was necessary because of the company’s “substantial debt burden” and the resulting inability to develop its primary candidate, AGI-1067, according to a press release. AtheroGenics expects to sell the company and/or assets during the bankruptcy proceedings. Proceeds from any transactions will be distributed to the company's stakeholders, including its creditors.

Hollywood, FL (Sept. 29)-Azopharma expanded its Cyanta Analytical Laboratories facility in Maryland Heights, Missouri. The expansion added 10,000 ft2 of laboratory and office space and nearly doubled the operating space of the inhalation services facility. The expansion also added instrumentation specific to the development of inhalation devices and pharmaceutical products.

Leverkusen, Germany (Sept. 29)-Bayer Innovation GmbH and Kentucky Bioprocessing (KBP, Owensboro, KY), will develop a facility at KBP’s Owensboro plant for the production of biopharmaceuticals. Based on Bayer’s proprietary "magnICON" technology, plant-made pharmaceutical proteins (PMP) and other products will be produced in tobacco plants on commercial scale. Under terms of a colloaboration agreement, KBP will adapt its existing current good manufacturing practices compliant facility by installing an automated system for high throughput transfection of tobacco host plants. Construction on the magnICON-related improvements at KBP is scheduled to begin in October 2008.

Princeton, NJ (Oct. 3)-Covance, a contract research organization, closed its $1.6-billion research agreement with Eli Lilly (Indianapolis) to provide a range of drug development services over the next 10 years and to purchase Lilly's 450-acre early drug-development campus in Greenfield, Indiana. Effective on Oct. 4, Covance assumed control of the Greenfield center, and 264 Lilly employees became Covance employees.

Parsippany, NJ (Sept. 29)-DSM Biologics and Crucell (Leiden, The Netherlands) announced that the high-titer, fed-batch process was recently scaled up to 250 L by DSM Biologics scientists at their GMP facility in Groningen, The Netherlands. They successfully achieved 8 g/L for an IgG expressed by “PER.C6” cells using chemically defined cell-culture medium in a single-use bioreactor. The process was first developed at the DSM’s and Crucell’s “PERCIVIA PER.C6” development center, a joint venture in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Heerlen, NL (Sept. 26)-DSM Venturing, the corporate venturing unit of Royal DSM N.V., invested in The Compliers Group International (TCG, Eindhoven, The Netherlands), a company that develops smart pharmaceutical packaging solutions. TCG’s products contain microchips that enable the monitoring of a patient’s therapy compliance, and can record when a pill is removed from a blister pack. This information can be read out wirelessly (e.g., with a mobile phone) and made available to caregivers and patients in day-to-day medication therapy or to pharmaceutical companies or research organizations in clinical studies. Financial details of the investment were not disclosed.

New Delhi, India (Oct. 3)-Jubilant Organosys, a research and manufacturing services provider, and Eli Lilly (Indianapolis) agreed to form an equally owned joint venture (JV) in India that will focus on providing drug-development services exclusively to Jubilant- and Lilly-partnered molecules. The JV will be based out of Bangalore and is expected to begin operations in the fall of 2008. The JV will be managed by an independent team of drug-development experts and will focus on preclinical molecules and their development through Phase II clinical testing.

Whitehouse Station, NJ (Oct. 2)-Merck & Co. discontinued development of its investigational medicine to treat obesity, taranabant. Merck announced it will not seek regulatory approval for taranabant, and will discontinue its Phase III clinical development program for the drug.

Toronto, Canada (Oct. 2)-Patheon, a provider of contract development and manufacturing services, won the European Outsourcing Award in conjunction with Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals (P&G, Cincinnati, OH). Patheon won in the category of the Most Effective Scale-Up and Technical Transfer award for its work with P&G.

Allegan, MI (Oct. 6)-Perrigo acquired Laboratorios Diba (Guadalajara, Mexico), a store brand manufacturer of over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceuticals, including antibiotics, hormonals, and opthalmics. The transaction was for approximately $25 million in cash.

Washington, DC (Oct 9.)-The $700-billion bailout bill passed by Congress and signed by the President last week included a research and development tax credit. The bill extends the R&D tax credit that expired in 2007 by two years.

People Notes

Albany, NY (Sept. 30)-AMRI, a contract manufacturer of active pharmaceutical ingredients, named Gergely Makara director of chemistry for European operations. Makara will report to Philip Small, who was promoted from director of chemistry to managing director of AMRI’s European operations in June 2008. 

Evans City, PA (Oct. 6)-BASF appointed Michael Pcolinski director of inorganic chemicals in North America. He will be based in Evans City, Pennsylvania. Pcolinski has served in a variety of research, strategic planning and business management positions since joining BASF in 1992.

Devens, MA (Oct. 2)-Bristol-Myers Squibb appointed Christopher Perley vice-president and general manager of its Devens, Massachusetts, biologics manufacturing facility. Perley will supervise the construction of the Devens facility and will have overall management responsibility for the site and facility when it becomes operational in 2011.

Clinton, NJ (Oct. 2)-Ikaria Holdings, a biotherapeutics company, appointed Michael Kennedy senior vice-president of engineering and operations. Kennedy will be responsible for drug-device technology strategy and development.

Beverly, MA (Oct. 1)-Inotek Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage, drug development company, named Paul G. Howes president, CEO, and director. Howes brings more than 20 years of pharmaceutical experience to Inotek, and formerly worked for Bausch & Lomb and Merck & Co.

Irvine, CA (Oct. 9)-Irvine Pharmaceutical Services, a provider of research and development services, appointed Muhammad Asif director of analytical development, and Paul Maffuid senior vice-president of operations.

Albany, OR (Sept. 30)-Synthetech, a fine chemicals company, appointed Frederic Farkas director of manufacturing, effective on Oct. 1, 2008. Farkas has provided consulting services to Synthetech since May 2008.