Company and People Notes: West To Reduce Workforce, Eli Lilly's CEO and Chairman To Retire, More

December 20, 2007
Pharmaceutical Technology Editors
ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

Company and People Notes: West to reduce workforce, Eli Lilly's CEO and chairman to retire, more...

Company Notes

San Diego (Dec. 18)-Arena Pharmaceuticals entered into a strategic agreement with Siegfried Ltd., an affiliate of Siegfried Holding AG. The agreement primarily relate to the manufacturing of lorcaserin hydrochloride, which is expected to be necessary for Arena’s planned New Drug Application submission to the US Food and Drug Administration and for commercialization of lorcaserin after regulatory marketing approval. Lorcaserin is Arena's Phase III oral drug candidate being developed for the treatment of obesity. Arena expects that this transaction will close on January 8, 2008 and believes that it has the potential for benefits such as reducing manufacturing-related risks to the lorcaserin NDA registration, securing a long-term supply of lorcaserin active pharmaceutical ingredient, and reducing overall manufacturing costs.

Cambridge, MA (Dec. 12)-The board of directors of Biogen Idec announced that, after completing a review of strategic alternatives to maximize shareholder value, Biogen Idec has ended its plans to sell the company. On October 12, the board announced the possible sale of the company. At the conclusion of a thorough sale process, Biogen Idec did not receive any definitive offers to purchase the company.

New York (Dec. 17)-Avista Capital Partners, a private equity firm, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMS) signed a definitive agreement for Avista to acquire Bristol-Myers Squibb Medical Imaging (BMS MI), a business unit of BMS, for approximately $525 million of cash proceeds. BMS MI is a supplier of medical imaging products for nuclear and ultrasound cardiovascular diagnostic imaging procedures. The transaction, subject to customary regulatory approvals, will be completed by the end of January 2008, at which time BMS MI will operate as an independent company under a new name.

Parsippany,NJ (Dec. 10)-DSM Pharma Chemicals, a business unit of DSM Pharmaceutical Products, entered into an enzyme supply agreement with the German company IEP to enable scale-up of chiral alcohol manufacturing based on IEP enzymes. Under the terms of the agreement, DSM Pharma Chemicals has secured access to IEP alcohol dehydrogenases, which are screened at IEP, as well as supply of IEP enzymes at commercial scale. DSM can either source the enzyme from IEP or produce the enzymes in its own enzyme manufacturing facilities located in Delft, The Netherlands, Capua, Italy, and Seclin, France. The partnership between DSM Pharma Chemicals and IEP started in 2006 with a focus on alcohol dehydrogenase screens and process development. It has so far resulted in more than 20 development projects.

Chalfont St. Giles, UK and Rockville, MD, USA (Dec. 10)-GE Healthcare, a unit of General Electric Company, and Novavax, a clinical stage vaccine company, announced a collaboration agreement to develop and market a pandemic influenza vaccine manufacturing solution for selected international countries. The goal of the collaboration is to develop a plan for enabling a vaccine production facility commissioning in half the time of a traditional egg-based facility, and at a potential capital reduction of approximately 60%. Once established, such a vaccine facility could allow manufacturing of pandemic flu vaccine to commence within 12 weeks of the strain isolation.

San Diego (Dec. 13)-Neurocrine Biosciences, a biopharmaceutical company focused on neurological and endocrine diseases and disorders, announced staff reductions of approximately 130 employees at its San Diego campus. The reduction is part of Neurocrine’s restructuring program to prioritize costs after the setback on indiplon. Following these reductions, Neurocrine will have approximately 120 employees.

Basel, Switzerland  (Dec. 13)-Novartis is launching a new initiative, called “Forward,” that will enhance productivity by streamlining the organization and redesigning the way it operates. “Forward” will include such actions as targeted initiatives to be implemented during 2008 and 2009 with an expected annual pretax cost savings goal of USD 1.6 billion in 2010, as well as the reduction of approximately 2,500 full-time positions (2.5% of group total) worldwide, with many reductions to be achieved through normal staff fluctuation, vacancy management and social programs. A restructuring charge of approximately USD 450 million to be taken in 2007 fourth quarter to support implementation in a socially responsible manner.

Toronto, Canada (Dec. 14)-Patheon, a provider of drug development and manufacturing services, announced an update to its Puerto Rico facilities. The company decided to retain and continue to streamline its facilities in Caguas and Manati, and divest its facility in Carolina, Puerto Rico. The Carolina site is a 230,000-ft2 facility, with approximately 200 employees, that specializes in the manufacture of oral cephalosporin solid dosage forms, including tablets, capsules and powders for suspension. It currently manufactures four products on behalf of six clients.

Louisville, CO (Dec. 10)-Replidyne, a biopharmaceutical company, announced a new strategy, which includes reducing headcount by approximately 35 percent, primarily in the administrative, clinical, regulatory, and commercial functions; identifying a partner for Replidyne’s late-stage antibiotic, faropenem medoxomil (faropenem); advancing and expanding its infectious disease pipeline; and exploring corporate development opportunities.

Lionville, PA (Dec. 12)-The board of directors for West Pharmaceutical Services, manufacturer of components and systems for injectable drug delivery, unanimously approved a restructuring plan for its Tech Group segment. The company will reduce spending by consolidating two tool production operations into one facility, in Scottsdale, Arizona, and by consolidations at other operations in North America. The plan will be completed by December 2008. As a result of the restructuring, the Tech Group workforce will be reduced by approximately 250 workers, or 13%.

The restructuring addresses the recent reduction in business due to changes in customers’ marketing plans. On October 18, 2007 Pfizer announced its decision to exit the Exubera inhaled insulin product. Nektar, the product's innovator and Tech Group’s customer, has stopped ordering the Exubera inhalation device that the Tech Group produces. The restructuring aligns the Tech Group’s plant capacity and workforce with the current business outlook and longer-term strategy of focusing the business on proprietary products.

People Notes

Ghent, Belgium (Dec. 17)-AlgoNomics, the immunoprofiling company, promoted Philippe Stas to chief executive officer. Dr. Ignace Lasters, who previously held the position of CEO, will continue as chief scientific officer and assume a role as director of the company.

Cambridge, MA (Dec. 14)-Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, an RNAi therapeutics company, promoted Barry Greene to the new position of president and chief operating officer. Greene previously held the title of chief operating officer. He will continue to report to Dr. John Maraganore, the company’s chief executive officer.

Los Angeles (Dec. 17)-CytRx promoted David Haen to vice-president of business development, and it promoted Ed Umali to vice-president of operations, effective immediately. Haen and Umali both joined CytRx in August 2003.

Wilmington, DE (Dec. 12)-DuPont has appointed Phuong Tram chief information officer, effective Jan. 1, 2008. Tram is currently vice-president of DuPont Information Technology (IT) Integrated Service Delivery. Tram succeeds Robert R. Ridout, who will retire Dec. 31 after 39 years of service with DuPont.

Indianapolis (Dec. 18)-Eli Lilly announced that Sidney Taurel, chief executive officer and chairman of the board, will retire as CEO effective March 31, 2008. Taurel will remain chairman of the company’s board of directors until December 31, 2008, at which time he will retire from the board and from the company. John C. Lechleiter, PhD, currently president and chief operating officer, will assume the role of president and chief executive officer as of April 1, 2008.

San Diego (Dec. 17)-Immusol, a privately held biopharmaceutical company, announced that it has changed its name to ItherX Pharmaceuticals and has appointed Jeffrey F. McKelvy as president, chief executive officer and director. McKelvy joins from Avera Pharmaceuticals, a privately held specialty pharmaceutical company, where he had been founding CEO, and then president and chief technical officer. Tsvi Goldenberg, founding CEO of Immusol, will remain as chairman.

Carlsbad, CA (Dec. 14)-Isis Pharmaceuticals promoted B. Lynne Parshall, JD, to chief operating officer, effective immediately. Parshall retains her position as chief financial officer, and is a director of the company.

Bethesda, MD (Dec. 14)-Micromet, a biopharmaceutical company, announced the resignation of Christopher Schnittker as senior vice-president and chief financial officer. Donald A. Zelm, executive director of finance, will assume the responsibilities as principal financial officer of the company and as its interim chief financial officer. The company has initiated a search for a new CFO.

Livingston, NJ (Dec. 12)-Milestone Scientific, a company focused on advanced injection technologies, named Joe Martin the new chief executive officer of the company and a member of its board of directors, effective January 1, 2008. Martin is currently CEO of the company’s medical division. Martin will replace Leonard Osser, who will continue serving as the chairman of the board.