Company and People Notes: Daiichi Sankyo to Acquire U3 Pharma, Somnus Therapeutics Announces Formation of Executive Team, More

May 29, 2008
Pharmaceutical Technology Editors
ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

Also, GVK BIO and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals form research agreement, Eli Lilly announces changes to management, more...

Company Notes

Cambridge, MA (May 27)-Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Takeda Pharmaceutical (Osaka, Japan) announced they have formed a strategic platform alliance in RNAi therapeutics in the fields of oncology and metabolic disease with the option to expand to additional therapeutic areas. This alliance is the first major RNAi therapeutics partnership between a Japanese pharmaceutical company and a US biotechnology company.

Tokyo, Japan (May 21)-Daiichi Sankyo entered into an agreement to acquire the privately held biotechnology company U3 Pharma (Martinsried, Germany). Daiichi Sankyo will purchase 100% of the stock and make a one-time payment of 150 million Euros ($235 million) for the company. Closure of the transaction is subject to clearance of customary closing conditions. U3 Pharma was established in 2001 and currently employs 27 people, the majority of whom work directly in research and development.

Hyderabad, India (May 26)-Contract research organization GVK BIO entered into a research agreement with Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, a division of Wyeth, to discover drug candidates focused on predefined discovery targets. GVK BIO will be responsible for identifying drug candidates, which will be transferred to Wyeth to advance these compounds toward clinical studies. Under the agreement, GVK BIO will receive an initial payment and will be eligible for milestone payments.

Brisbane, CA (May 19)-InterMune, a biotechnology company, announced that its program for the development of pirfenidone for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis received "Fast Track" designation from the US Food and Drug Administration. Fast Track is a status that FDA reserves for a drug intended to treat a serious or life-threatening condition and one that demonstrates the potential to address an unmet medical need for the condition.

West Deptford, NJ (May 23)-Johnson Matthey Catalysis and Chiral Technologies added Trichickenfootphos (TCFP) to its chiral ligand offering. This novel C1 symmetric bisphosphine is Johnson Matthey’s first P-chiral ligand that is both small and highly electron rich. Johnson Matthey has successfully scaled TCFP to multikilo production, and it is now available through our global sales outlets.

Rockville, MD (May 22)-Novavax, a clinical-stage biotechnology company, announced that it created a new proprietary process to develop a vaccine candidate against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The company also received renewed research funding from the National Institutes of Health to continue preclinical development of SARS vaccine candidates using Novavax’s virus-like particle technology.

Allegan, MI (May 21)-Perrigo entered into a collaborative agreement with Cobrek Pharmaceuticals, a newly formed entity of Pentech Pharmaceuticals, a privately owned company that specializes in niche generic dosage forms. Pentech will contribute its abbreviated new drug application filing for a generic equivalent to “Luxiq” foam, a $34-million branded pharmaceutical product. Perrigo will contribute two of its early stage generic topical pipeline products. The companies will share the development costs and profits, with Perrigo being the exclusive distributor.

Laupheim, Germany (May 21)-Contract manufacturer Rentschler Biotechnologie and global pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim signed a preferred partnership agreement. The cooperation will enable Rentschler Biotechnologie’s clients to gain access to Boehringer Ingelheim’s large-scale mammalian biopharmaceutical production facilities in Biberach, Germany, and Boehringer Ingelheim’s clients to use Rentschler’s facilities of process development and intermediate-scale clinical supply production.

Budapest, Hungary (May 22)-ThalesNano, a provider of continuous process chemistry instruments, and Sanofi-Aventis R&D (Paris, France) signed a research and development collaboration agreement focusing on continuous process chemistry technologies from research to full-scale production. The purpose of the project is to study the utilization and application of ThalesNano’s integrated continuous process chemistry technologies within the Sanofi-Aventis drug R&D process from discovery to API production.

People Notes

Lenexa, KS (May 23)-CyDex Pharmaceuticals, a specialty pharmaceutical company, appointed Theron E. Odlaug, PhD, to the newly established position of president and chief operating officer.

Indianapolis, IN (May 21)-Eli Lilly announced changes across its executive leadership structure across several areas of the company, and most changes will take effect during the second quarter. Highlights include changes at Lilly Research Laboratories (LRL), with the retirement of Tim Franson, vice-president of global regulatory affairs, and the departure of Alan Breier, vice-president of medical and chief medical officer. Tim Garnett, currently vice-president of global patient safety, will assume the role of vice-president and chief medical officer and will lead this new organization. Jen Stotka has been named to the role of vice-president of global regulatory affairs, and Don Therasse will assume the role of vice-president of global patient safety. Both will report to Garnett. Details of changes to other areas of Lilly can be found in the company press release.

Paris, France (May 22)-Speacialty pharmaceutical company Ipsen appointed Gerard Picot vice-president of global regulatory affairs. He reports to Stephane Thiroloix, executive vice-president of corporate development.

San Carlos, CA (May 22)-Bharatt Chowrira, PhD, joined Nektar Therapeutics as chief operating officer and head of the PEGylation Business Unit. He will also serve as Chairman of Nektar India Pvt., Ltd. Chowrira will report to Nektar president and chief operating officer Howard W. Robin.

Sophia Antipolis, France (May 27)-NicOx, a biopharmaceutical company, announced that Damian Marron, executive vice-president of corporate development, will be leaving the company on May 30, 2008. Damian’s responsibilities will be assumed by Sanjiv Sharma, vice-president commercial affairs and Gavin Spencer, senior director business development.

Bedminster, NJ (May 22)-Somnus Therapeutics, a private specialty pharmaceutical company, announced the formation of its executive development team: Gary Cupit, chief executive officer and director; Christine Blumhardt, chief regulatory officer; Linda Hogan, chief business officer and director; and Anne McCormick, director of clinical project management.

San Francisco, CA (May 22)-Takeda San Francisco, a wholly owned subsidiary of Takeda Pharmaceutical (Osaka, Japan), appointed Mary Haak-Frendscho, PhD, president and chief scientific officer. Haak-Frendscho will be responsible for leading all activities at Takeda San Francisco, including overall research and preclinical development, process development studies and operations for antibody therapeutics.