Company and People Notes: Novartis and MIT to Study Continuous Processing, GSK Appoints Andrew Witty as CEO, More

October 11, 2007
Pharmaceutical Technology Editors
ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

Company and People Notes: Novartis and MIT to study continuous processing, GSK appoints Andrew Witty as CEO, more.

Company Notes


Berkeley Heights, NJ (Oct. 8)-Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals will acquire all of the assets of privately held ALIGN Pharmaceuticals and ALIGN Holdings (Cary, NC). Cyclacel purchased substantially all of ALIGN’s assets for a cash consideration that will range between approximately $3.3 million and $3.8 million. ALIGN markets three drugs that manage the effects of radiation or chemotherapy in cancer patients: “Xclair” cream, “Numoisyn” liquid, and “Numoisyn” lozenges. All three products were launched in the United States in January 2006. The three drugs will continue to be marketed directly in the United States by ALIGN Pharmaceuticals (Berkeley Heights, NJ), the wholly owned subsidiary of Cyclacel, which was newly established to effect the transaction. ALIGN’s current chief executive officer, William C. Collins, will become general manager of ALIGN Pharmaceuticals.

Menlo Park, CA (Oct. 9)-ForSight Newco II, a privately held spin-out company of ForSight Labs, entered into an agreement to be acquired by QLT (Vancouver, BC, Canada). The acquisition includes ForSight Newco II’s proprietary ocular punctal-plug drug-delivery system. Under the terms of the agreement, QLT will acquire all of the outstanding shares of ForSight Newco II for $42 million on closing and make future milestone payments and royalties on net sales of products. The acquisition is expected to close early in the fourth quarter of 2007, after which ForSight Newco II will become a wholly owned subsidiary of QLT.

London and Palo Alto, CA (Oct. 8)-GlaxoSmithKline and Anacor Pharmaceuticals formed an alliance for the discovery, development, and commercialization of novel medicines for viral and bacterial diseases. The collaboration provides GlaxoSmithKline access to Anacor’s proprietary boron-based chemistry for use against selected targets. Under the terms of the agreement, Anacor will receive a $12-million up-front payment and a $10-million equity financing commitment from GlaxoSmithKline. Anacor is eligible to receive discovery, development, regulatory, and commercial milestones ranging between $252 million and $331 million for each product candidate, contingent on achieving certain milestones.

Loures, Portugal (Oct. 8)-Hovione’s Technology Transfer Center (TTC) was accepted for Star participation to the Voluntary Protection Program by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA created the program in 1980 to recognize and partner with worksites that implement exceptional systems to manage worker safety and health. The management and employees at these sites voluntarily implement comprehensive safety and health management systems that go beyond basic compliance with OSHA regulations. A ceremony to mark Hovione’s acceptance to the VPP Star program will take place October 11 in East Windsor, New Jersey. At present, only 44 sites in New Jersey have obtained the VPP Star designation.

Basel, Switzerland and Cambridge, MA (Sept. 28)-Novartis and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have launched a long-term research collaboration to study and improve the way pharmaceuticals are produced. Novartis will invest $65 million during the next 10 years in the Novartis–MIT Center for Continuous Manufacturing, which will develop new technologies that could replace the traditional batch-based system in the pharmaceuticals industry with continuous manufacturing processes.

People Notes


Carlsbad, CA (Oct. 5)-Ardea Biosciences, a company focused on the discovery and development of small-molecule therapeutics, named Dr. Jean-Luc Girardet vice-president of research operations. Girardet will be responsible for implementing the company’s drug discovery programs. Patrick O’Connor, PhD, will establish a new nonprofit foundation focused on drug discovery and development for neglected diseases in developing countries. O’Connor will transition from his current role as chief scientific officer at Ardea Biosciences to a consultancy role to the company on drug discovery and development so he can focus on this new venture.

Plymouth Meeting, PA (Oct. 5)-Beijing Med-Pharm named Yanping Zhao to the new post of corporate vice-president. Serving as the chief representative for Beijing Med-Pharm in China, Zhao will work with David Gao, chief executive officer of Beijing Med-Pharm, to oversee and coordinate the company’s Chinese subsidiaries.

London (Oct. 8)-GlaxoSmithKline appointed Andrew Witty to replace Chief Executive Officer Jean-Pierre Garnier. Witty, currently president of Pharmaceuticals Europe for GSK, will assume the position in May 2008 following Garnier’s retirement.

Emeryville, CA (Oct. 4)-Onyx Pharmaceuticals announced that Hollings C. Renton, the company’s chief executive officer, plans to retire next year. Renton will remain chairman of the board of directors. The company initiated a search for a successor. The company also announced the promotion of Laura A. Brege to the newly created position of executive vice-president and chief operating officer.

Research Triangle Park, NC (Oct. 8)-Quintiles Transnational appointed Jay D. Norman as president of its expanding Quintiles Consulting business. The consulting services are designed to help pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device companies maximize potential and minimize risk from early discovery through commercialization in areas such as strategic product development, regulatory compliance, and pricing and reimbursement.

Berkeley, CA (Oct. 8)-XOMA, a company focused on the discovery and development of antibody therapeutics, appointed its chief executive officer and president, Steven Engle, as chairman of the board of directors effective October 5, 2007. Engle joined XOMA as its CEO, president, and director in August 2007.