Company and People Notes: Roche to Acquire Piramed for $160 Million, Adventrx Pharma Appoints Jose Hechavarria VP of Manufacturing, More

April 16, 2008
Pharmaceutical Technology Editors
ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

Also, Alcon plans to open Singapore facility, Pharmacopeia president and CEO retired, more...

Company notes

Hafnarfjordur, Iceland (Apr. 9)-Actavis, a pharmaceutical company focused on generics, acquired a 90% share in Zhejiang Chiral Medicine Chemicals Company (Hangzhou, China) for an undisclosed amount. Chiral specializes in research, development, and production of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). The acquisition is part of Actavis' strategy to get access to low-cost API manufacturing.

Watertown, MA (Mar. 31)-Acusphere, a specialty pharmaceutical company, signed an agreement to license the intellectual property rights to its "Hydrophobic Drug Delivery System" (HDDS) for oncology applications, along with the rights to AI-850, its formulation of paclitaxel, to Cephalon (Frazer, PA), a biopharmaceutical company, in exchange for a cash payment of $10 million.

Huenenberg, Switzerland (Apr. 13)-Alcon, an eyecare company, announced today that the company plans to build a facility in Singapore that will manufacture pharmaceuticals to be distributed throughout most of Asia. The company plans to break ground in 2009 with the plant being fully functional in 2012. Alcon will lease a 20-acre plot of land and build a 250,000-ft2 facility in the Tuas Biomedical Park. The company expects to manufacture at a rate of more than 53 million units per year at this facility by the end of the third year of operation, and expects to employ more than 150 employees within that timeframe.

Beverly, MA (Apr. 8)-Inotek announced restructuring plans that focus its resources on the development of its two main clinical programs and the advancement of its two preclinical programs, including the partnering of its monoclonal antibody program. The company consolidated its operations and workforce at the corporate offices in Massachusetts. The consolidation also includes the closing of several international offices and the sale of the company's pilot manufacturing plant in Dimona, Israel.

Greenville, NC (Apr. 9)-Metrics celebrated the grand opening of its $18-million, 47,000-ft2 facility addition, which near doubled its space. Metrics’ facility addition includes: four new validated analytical laboratories, stability storage, a cytotoxic and potent compound laboratory, and a new microbiology laboratory. Metrics also increased its staff, adding at least 50 pharmaceutical scientists and technicians.

Branford, CT (Apr. 9)-Neurogen entered into definitive agreements for a private placement offering of exchangeable preferred stock and warrants with selected institutional investors for gross proceeds of approximately $30.6 million before fees and expenses. The proceeds will be used for clinical development of existing product candidates and other general corporate purposes. The company also announced that it has reduced its workforce by approximately 45 positions in research and administrative functions.

Toronto, Canada (Apr. 10)-Patheon opened a new early-phase development facility in Milton Park in Oxfordshire, UK. The 13,500-ft2 leased facility contains newly constructed formulation laboratories and a fully equipped analytical laboratory. Milton Park operations will focus on the early-phase development of solid, semi-solid and oral liquid dosage forms. The facility includes GMP manufacturing areas for the production of clinical trial materials for Phase I–II trials. Patheon’s “Quick To Clinic” programs, which accelerate molecules to clinical trials while minimizing API requirements, will be supported at the site.

Slough, UK (Apr. 15)-Piramed, a privately owned biotechnology company, signed a definitive agreement with Roche (Basel) that will result in Piramed being fully acquired for an upfront cash payment of $160 million plus a milestone payment of $15 million, which is due upon the commencement of Phase II clinical trials for the company's oncology program. Closing of the transaction is subject to standard conditions and reviews.

People Notes

San Diego, CA (Apr. 9)-Adventrx Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company, appointed Jose Hechavarria to the new position of vice-president of manufacturing. Hechavarria will be responsible for leading the company's planned commercial manufacturing operations.

Quebec City, Canada (Apr. 11)-AEterna Zentaris, a biopharmaceutical company, announced that David J. Mazzo, PhD, has resigned as president and chief executive officer and as member of the board of directors of AEterna Zentaris, effective immediately. Juergen Ernst, the current chairman of the board, will serve as the interim president and CEO. Ellen McDonald, the senior vice-president of business operations and chief business officer of AEterna Zentaris, has also resigned from the company, effective immediately.

Palo Alto, CA (Apr. 14)-Affymax appointed Carol Francisco, PhD, vice-president of biostatistics and data management. Francisco, who has more than 20 years of biostatistics and data management experience, joins Affymax as a member of the senior management team reporting to Anne-Marie Duliege, chief medical officer.

Woburn, MA (Apr. 15)-ArQule appointed Paolo Pucci as chief executive officer and a member of the company's board of directors, effective June 9, 2008. Pucci succeeds Stephen A. Hill, who joined Solvay Pharmaceuticals as president and chief executive officer on April 1, 2008. Peter Lawrence will remain at ArQule as president and chief operating officer.

Princeton, NJ (Apr. 10)-Pharmacopeia, a biopharmaceutical company, announced that Leslie J. Browne, PhD, resigned as president and chief executive officer and a member of the board of directors to pursue other interests. His resignation was effective April 9, 2008. Joseph A. Mollica, PhD, chairman of the board, will assume leadership responsibilities on an interim basis until a successor is appointed.

Basking Ridge, NJ (Apr. 14)-VioQuest Pharmaceuticals appointed Vernon L. Alvarez, PhD, vice-president of research and development. Alvarez will report to Michael D. Becker, president and chief executive officer of VioQuest Pharmaceuticals.