Company and People Notes: GSK and Valeant Collaborate on Investigational Drug, Aptuit Appoints Timothy C. Tyson Executive Chairman and Acting CEO, More...

September 4, 2008
Pharmaceutical Technology Editors
ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

Also, Novartis stops development on "Aurograb," Zealand Pharma appoints David H. Solomon as CEO, more...

Company notes

London, UK (Aug. 28)-GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Valeant Pharmaceuticals (Aliso Viejo, California) entered into a collaboration agreement for the investigational drug retigabine, a neuronal potassium channel opener for treatment of adult epilepsy patients with refractory partial onset seizures. Valeant and GSK plan to file a new drug application in the US and a marketing authorization application in Europe by early 2009.Under the terms of the agreement, Valeant will grant GSK worldwide development and commercialization rights to retigabine, "VRX698," and the other back-up compounds from the potassium channel opener discovery program in exchange for an upfront payment of $125 million to Valeant. Additionally, GSK will pay Valeant up to $545 million in milestone payments for retigabine. Valeant will co-commercialize with GSK and will share up to 50% of net profits within the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Puerto Rico, and will receive up to a 20% royalty on net sales of retigabine outside those regions. The two companies will jointly fund all global research and development expenses for retigabine, and GSK will completely fund the development of VRX698 and the other back-up compounds from the potassium channel opener discovery programme. Valeant could receive up to an additional $150 million based on achieving milestones for VRX698 and the back-up compounds and double-digit royalties on worldwide sales.

Greenville, NC (Sept. 3)-Metrics, a contract services provider, now offers microbiology-testing services to the contract pharmaceutical industry. The new services stem from the company’s $18-million, 47,000-ft2 expansion completed earlier this year. As part of its new microbiology laboratory, Metrics brought antibiotic assay and sterility testing online, enhancing its ability to offer full microbiological support of sterile products. The company performs bacterial endotoxin and particulate matter testing on parenterals.

Basel, Switzerland (Aug. 29)-Novartis decided not to pursue further development of its pipeline project “Aurograb,” an add-on therapy to antibiotics that was being assessed for use in treating deep-seated staphylococcal infections. The decision comes following a review of recent Phase II clinical data showing a lack of efficacy. Novartis gained the rights to this compound in 2006 through the acquisition of NeuTec Pharma (Manchester, UK). An intangible-asset-impairment charge of approximately $235 million, which reflects the full amount allocated to this project, will be taken in the third quarter of 2008 in the Pharmaceuticals Division.

Osaka, Japan (Sept. 1)-Shionogi, a research-driven pharmaceutical company, will acquire the pharmaceutical company Sciele Pharma (Atlanta, GA). Under the terms of the agreement and pursuant to a tender offer, Shionogi will acquire all the outstanding shares of Sciele’s common stock at a price of $31 per share, for a total equity purchase price of approximately $1.1 billion. Sciele will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Shionogi and will continue operations in Atlanta, Georgia, as a standalone business unit. The deal is subject to customary closing conditions.

Mumbai, India (Aug. 27)-Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, a specialty pharmaceutical company, announced it was victorious in all elements of its defense of the litigation brought against it in the Tel-Aviv District Court by Taro Pharmaceutical Industries (Haifa Bay, Israel). The Tel-Aviv Court rejected Taro’s contention that Sun Pharma should have conducted a “special tender offer” under Israeli Law. As a result, Sun Pharma will be in a position to complete the previously announced tender offer by its subsidiary, Alkaloida Chemical. Following the closing of the tender offer, all conditions to Sun Pharma’s option agreement to acquire all the shares held by the controlling shareholders of Taro will be satisfied and the controlling shareholders will have to deliver their shares. In a second announcement, Sun Pharma filed an amendment to the tender offer that provides for the waiver of certain conditions, including the condition that the controlling shareholders of Taro have performed their obligations under their option agreement with Sun Pharma. The expiration date of the tender offer was extended to Sept. 3, 2008.

Brussels, Belgium (Aug. 28)-UCB, a specialty pharmaceutical company, announced a restructuring plan called “SHAPE,” which is designed to reorganize the company’s resources and transform the company to focus on central nervous system and immunology disease areas. As part of this plan, UCB will reduce its workforce by 2000 positions throughout the world, representing approximately 17% of its worldwide workforce.

People Notes

Palatine, IL (Sept. 2)-Acura Pharmaceuticals, a specialty pharmaceutical company, announced that Andy Reddick has resumed full responsibilities as president and chief executive officer (CEO) following a medical leave of absence initiated in February of this year. The company expects that Reddick's travel schedule will be limited for the foreseeable future.

Greenwich, CT (Aug. 26)-Aptuit appointed Timothy C. Tyson executive chairman and acting CEO. Michael A. Griffith, the company’s founder and CEO since 2005, resigned to pursue other opportunities. Tyson is the former chief operating officer, president, and CEO of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (Aliso Viejo, CA), where he served from 2002–2008.

San Diego, CA (Sept. 2)-Halozyme Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company, appointed Patrick O'Connor, PhD, vice-president of research; Michael J. LaBarre, PhD, vice-president of product development; and James E. Cartoni vice-president of legal.

Leuven, Belgium (Aug. 28)-ThromboGenics, a biotechnology company, appointed Patrik De Haes, currently chief operating officer, to succeed Désiré Collen as the company’s new CEO, effective September 1, 2008. Collen will remain chairman of ThromboGenics’ board of directors.

Gloustrup, Denmark (Aug. 28)-Zealand Pharma, a biopharmaceutical company, appointed David H. Solomon as CEO. Solomon succeeds Interim CEO Mogens Vang Rasmussen, who will continue in his role as chief financial officer.