Company and People Notes: Sanofi Pasteur to Acquire Acambis, West Appoints Matthew T. Mullarkey As COO, More...

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ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

Also, Cobra Biomanufacturing to extend collaboration and form joint venture with ViroMed, Epix Pharmaceuticals CEO resigns, more...

Company Notes

Watertown, MA (July 28)-The specialty pharmaceutical company Acusphere reduced its employee base by 24 people, or about 24%, primarily in functions related to manufacturing its lead product candidate, “Imagify” (perflubutane polymer microspheres) for injectable suspension. All senior managers at the vice-president level and above are taking salary reductions of 10% or more effective August 1, 2008, to further decrease operating costs while Acusphere awaits FDA review and potential approval of its new drug application for Imagify. With the announced reductions, total employment at Acusphere is now 77 personnel.

Keele, UK (July 24)-Cobra Biomanufacturing, a biopharmaceutical company, will extend its collaboration and form a joint venture with ViroMed (Seoul, South Korea), a company focused on DNA and protein-based therapeutics. The extended collaboration agreement will provide ViroMed with guaranteed process development and manufacturing resources for all ViroMed products. Additionally, the companies have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the potential of establishing a joint venture commercial-scale biomanufacturing company.

Morrisville, PA (July 17)-Gelest, a provider of organosilicon and other group IV organometalics, recently completed the final phase of a multi-year project to double the capacity of its Morrisville, Pennsylvania, headquarters and production plant. The expansion will allow the company to produce a wider range of products at larger volumes along with its new surface-treatment operation that will target the modification of microparticles.


Washington, DC (July 10)-The federal government opened the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center to combat counterfeiting and protect public safety from counterfeit pharmaceuticals, foods and other ingestible products, and consumer goods. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff spoke at the inauguration of the center and provided examples of counterfeit products like toothpaste containing antifreeze, a counterfeit bottle of liquor, substandard steel that will fail under stress, and counterfeit circuit breakers that can cause fires. Several agencies will collaborate at the center, including representatives from Customs and Border Protection, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, the FBI, the FDA, the Office of Criminal Investigation, the US Patent and Trademark Office, the Department of Commerce, and the US Postal Inspections Service.

Paris, France (July 25)-Sanofi Aventis announced that Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines business of Sanofi-Aventis, will acquire the vaccine maker Acambis (Cambridge, UK) for GBP 276 million ($546 million). In April 2008, Acambis signed $425-million, 10-year contract to provide its smallpox vaccine ACAM2000 to the U.S. government. The deal is expected to close by the end of September 2008.

Frankfurt, Germany (July 29)-The chemicals manufacturer WeylChem announced its intention to produce reagents on an industrial scale for major manufacturers of pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals and poly-functionalized products. A complete series of Grignard-type reagents will be produced at the company’s Elgin, South Carolina, facility. The scale-up in Grignard reagent production is in response to an increase in industry need.

People Notes

Athens, GA (July 29)-ArunA Biomedical, a provider of human stem cell products and services, named William T. Sharp as president, chief executive officer (CEO), and as a member of the board of directors. Sharp succeeds ArunA founder Steven Stice, PhD, who will remain the company’s chairman and chief scientific officer.

Corvallis, OR (July 28)-AVI BioPharma, a developer of RNA-based drugs, named J. David Boyle II as senior vice-president and chief financial officer (CFO). Boyle will begin his employment with the company on August 18, 2008, at which time, Mark Webber, AVI’s current CFO, will assume a new position as general manager of finance and administration.

Lexington, MA (July 28)-Epix Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company, announced that Michael G. Kauffman, PhD, resigned his position as CEO and a director of the company effective July 25, 2008, to pursue other opportunities. Epix named Elkan Gamzu, PhD, interim CEO, effective immediately.

Palo Alto, CA (July 24)-Horizon Therapeutics, a privately held biopharmaceutical company, named Timothy P. Walbert president, CEO and member of the board of directors. Walbert served as president and CEO of the biopharmaceutical company IDM Pharma.

Richmond, VA (July 28)-Insmed, a developer of follow-on biologics and biopharmaceuticals, appointed Jim Miller, PhD, vice-president of process development. Prior to joining Insmed, he served as executive vice-president of product development at Saronyx, a private life sciences company that he also cofounded.

Melbourne, Australia (July 28)-Living Cell Technologies (LCT), a biopharmaceutical company, appointed of one of its directors, Robert Caspari, CEO of the company. Caspari is based in Boulder, Colorado, and will lead LCT from there in recognition of the growing US presence of the company. Paul Tan, LCT’s current CEO who is based in Auckland, New Zealand, will remain the CEO of LCT New Zealand, LCT's subsidiary in New Zealand, and will assume the role of chief operating officer (COO) for LCT.

Lionville, PA (July 29)-West Pharmaceutical Services, a manufacturer of components and systems for injectable drug delivery, appointed Matthew T. Mullarkey to the position of COO. Mullarkey succeeds Steve Ellers, West's current COO, who will remain president of the company through a transition period and his planned retirement in 2010. The transfer of management responsibilities will commence immediately.