Company and People Notes: Novartis to Acquire A Majority Ownership of Alcon, Alba Therapeutics Appoints Bruce A. Peacock CEO, More

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ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

Also, Jubilant Organosys to acquire DRAXIS Health, PPD's Paul Covington to retire, more...

Company Notes

Los Angeles, CA (Apr. 4)-Abraxis BioScience, a biotechnology company, completed its acquisition of Shimoda Biotech (Port Elizabeth, South Africa) and its subsidiary, Platco Technologies, (Plettenberg Bay, South Africa). Shimoda Biotech focuses on the development of new pharmaceutical products by combining off-patent molecules with a cyclodextrin drug-delivery platform. Platco Technologies focuses on the development of novel platinum-based anticancer drugs. Under the terms of the agreement, Abraxis acquired 100% of the equity of both Shimoda and Platco for an initial upfront payment at closing of $15 million, plus potential additional payments upon the achievement of specified milestones.

Sulzbach, Germany (Apr. 1)-Archimica will expand its cryogenic production capacity at its sites in Frankfurt and Bon Encontre, France because of increased demand from pharmaceutical companies for organometallic and other low-temperature products.

Hollywood, FL (Mar. 27)-Azopharma Product Development Group plans to expand its manufacturing capabilities at its Hollywood and Miramar, Florida, sites with the addition of 17 new manufacturing suites. The new suites will bring the company’s total to 29 and increase Azopharma’s ability to develop and manufacture of clinical trial-material. The new suites will allow material, including cytotoxic and potent compounds, to be made under good manufacturing practices. 

Ludwigshafen and Heidelberg, Germany (Apr. 3)-BASF and hte Aktiengesellschaft, a high-throughput experimentation company, reached an agreement for BASF to increase its stake in hte from 12.7% percent to 75% plus one share. The companies agreed not to disclose financial details of the transaction.

Bubendorf, Switzerland (Apr. 2)-Carbogen Amcis AG announced that its Indian subsidiary, Carbogen Amcis India Limited, plans to open a high-potency facility in Bavla, India. The facility will be located on the Bavla site of its parent company, Dishman Pharmaceuticals & Chemicals. The facility design and operation is modeled after the Carbogen Amcis high-potency operations that already exist at its Bubendorf facilities. The facility is expected to be operational by the first quarter of 2009.


Longmont, CO (Mar. 31)-Chemizon, a contract research organization, through its recently formed private equity fund, announced that it participated in Crown Bioscience’s (Santa Clara, CA) Series B round of financing. The companies will form a partnership that will offer capabilities and products including: protein cloning and expression, protein purification, antibody production, X-ray crystallography, computational chemistry, ADME-DMPK, PK-PD studies, TGI studies with validated tumor models including orthotopic models, parallel synthesis, medicinal chemistry, radiolabeling, and process research.

Dunderrow, Ireland (Apr. 7)-Eli Lilly hosted a foundation-laying ceremony of its new biopharmaceuticals manufacturing facility in Dunderrow, Kinsale, County Cork. Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin officiated at the ceremony and was joined by Eli Lilly’s new president and chief exeutive officer John Lechleiter. Martin announced a research collaboration between The National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training and Eli Lilly’s biologics research and development organization in Indianapolis that will involve the codevelopment of analytical technologies to enable the monitoring of cell-culture conditions. 

Waterford, Ireland (Apr. 1)-Genzyme, a biotechnology company, will invest €130 million ($204 million) in its facility in Waterford, Ireland. The investment will create 170 skilled positions and increase the manufacturing capacity at the Waterford facility over the next three years. The investment will expand its sterile fill–finish manufacturing operation, introduce soft-gel capsule manufacture, and expand the laboratory and office accommodations.

Noida, India (Apr. 4)-Jubilant Organosys and DRAXIS Health (Toronto, Canada), agreed to acquire all the outstanding common shares of DRAXIS for $6.00 per share in cash by way of a plan of arrangement. The total value of this transaction is approximately $255 million. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2008, after the completion of shareholder approval and customary closing conditions.

New York (Apr. 7)-Keryx Biopharmaceuticals will implement a restructuring plan to reduce its cash-burn rate and refocus its development efforts. The plan, which was prompted by the negative outcome of the company's Sun-Micro Phase III clinical trial of “Sulonex” (sulodexide) for the treatment of diabetic nephropathy, and the subsequent decision by the company to terminate the ongoing Sun-Macro Phase IV clinical trial, is intended to conserve the financial resources of the company. Keryx anticipates that the restructuring will reduce its cash-burn rate to approximately $10 million to $15 million for the remainder of the year. The plan includes a workforce reduction of approximately 50%, after which the company will have approximately 25 full and part-time employees.

Dungarvan, Ireland (Apr. 1)-Lancaster Laboratories is expanding its operation in Dungarvan, County  Waterford. This investment follows Lancaster’s acquisition of the Irish company Microchem Labs in 2007. The expansion will result in the creation of 100 new positions over the next five years; the majority of these positions will require people at PhD, masters and graduate levels.

Greenville, NC (Apr. 2)-Metrics is expanding its stability storage, which boosts its capacity by 50%. In its latest expansion, Metrics will offer new environmental specialties (ESI) chambers with redundant mechanical systems that will maintain proper environmental conditions, even in the unlikely event that an electrical failure occurs. All environmental chambers will be fully operational and validated by the second quarter of 2008. The chambers meet International Conference on Harmonization (ICH) and United States Pharmacopeia (USP) guidelines. In addition, for chambers without such redundancy, Metrics will maintain empty backup chambers pre-set to condition so that client studies can be transferred immediately if necessary.

Basel, Switzerland (Apr. 7)-Novartis reached an agreement with Nestlé for the right to acquire a majority ownership of the eye-care company Alcon in two steps. The transaction's first step is for Novartis to purchase a 25% stake in Alcon from Nestlé for $11 billion is expected to be completed in the second half of 2008. The second step provides rights for Novartis to acquire, and Nestlé to sell, the remaining 52% Alcon stake held by Nestlé between January 2010 and July 2011.

People Notes

Baltimore, MD (Apr. 3)-Alba Therapeutics announced the appointment of Bruce A. Peacock as its chief executive officer and a member of its board of directors. Peacock is a venture partner with SV Life Sciences Advisors, LLC. Blake M. Paterson, Alba's CEO and cofounder since its inception in 2004, has left the company to pursue other advisory and entrepreneurial interests.

Hopkinton, MA (Apr. 3)-Caliper Life Sciences announced the promotion of Peter F. McAree to senior vice-president and chief financial officer. McAree previously served as vice-president of finance at Caliper. Thomas Higgins will step down from the position of CFO, effective April 4, 2008.

Winnipeg, Canada (Apr. 8)-DiaMedica, a drug discovery and development company, announced the appointment Thomas Wellner to the board of Directors, the resignation of Albert D. Friesen from the board of directors, and the appointment of Rick Pauls to serve as chairman, interim president, and chief executive officer. Pauls is currently a member of the board of directors and is serving as interim president and CEO following the resignation of Karl-Gunnar Hidinger as president.

Wilmington, NC (Apr. 4)-PPD announced that Paul Covington is retiring as executive vice-president of development and chief medical officer, effective June 30, 2008. He will serve as a special project adviser to PPD through January 2009 to assist with selected projects and the transition of his responsibilities.

San Diego, CA (Apr. 4)-SkinMedica announced that Mary M. Fisher joined the company as chief executive officer. Fisher was previously chief operating officer at Acorda Therapeutics, a biotechnology company focused on developing products for the treatment of central nervous system disorders.