July 27, 2007 Notes: Merck & Co. Acquires NovaCardia, Sanofi Pasteur Completes Vaccine-Manufacturing Facility, More

July 27, 2007
Pharmaceutical Technology Editors
ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

Merck & Co. acquires NovaCardia, Sanofi Pasteur completes vaccine-manufacturing facility, more

Company Notes

Thousand Oaks, CA (July 19)-Amgen completed its acquisition of Ilypsa (Santa Clara, CA), a private company that develops nonabsorbed drugs for renal disorders. The transaction provides Amgen with a late-stage phosphate binder to treat hyperphosphatemia in chronic kidney disease patients on hemodialysis. The acquisition was originally announced on June 4, 2007.

Sulzbach, Germany (July 18)-CABB GmbH agreed to acquire SF-Chem AG (Pratteln, Switzerland), a producer of sulfur-based and chlorine-based specialty intermediates for the pharmaceutical and specialty-chemicals industries.

Irving, TX (July 20)-Carrington Laboratories announced that its subsidiary, DelSite Biotechnologies, extended a joint development agreement with Brookwood Pharmaceuticals (Birmingham, AL). The companies will continue an expanded evaluation of DelSite’s “GelSite” drug-delivery technology as a matrix for injectable applications and for selected classes of drugs. The extension results from the promising results and evaluations conducted by the joint technical team during the past year.

Redwood City, CA (July 19)-Codexis, a private biotechnology company and developer of clean manufacturing technologies, acquired BioCatalytics (Pasadena, CA), a private company that produces custom and off-the-shelf enzymes for pharmaceutical chemical-process manufacturing. Both companies’ boards of directors approved the transaction.

Hamburg, Germany (July 17)-Evotec AG expanded its sterile pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Glasgow, United Kingdom. The expanded facility doubles Evotec’s capacity to manufacture pharmaceuticals used in clinical trials.

South San Francisco, CA (July 23)-Genentech’s biotechnology manufacturing plant in Oceanside, California, officially opened and received government approval to make the company’s anticancer drug “Avastin.” Genentech plans to create hundreds of jobs at the plant, which it bought for $408 million in 2005.

Solna, Sweden (July 20)-Meda agreed to acquire all shares of MedPointe (Somerset, NJ). The acquisition gives Meda full marketing coverage both in the United States and Europe and revenues of nearly $1.4 billion.

Washington, DC (July 19)-The Pentagon awarded MedImmune (Gaithersburg, MD) a six-month contract valued at approximately $23.9 million to supply influenza vaccine to the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

Whitehouse Station, NJ (July 25)-Merck & Co. agreed to acquire all of the outstanding equity of NovaCardia (San Diego, CA), a privately held clinical-stage pharmaceutical company focused on cardiovascular diseases. Merck will purchase NovaCardia for $350 million plus the amount of cash on hand at the time of closing, all of which will be paid in Merck stock based on the average closing stock price on the five days before the acquisition closes.

New York (July 18)-Pfizer announced that its second-quarter profits in 2007 were 48% lower than in 2006. Jeffrey Kindler, Pfizer’s chairman and CEO, attributed the decline to challenges such as the loss of US exclusivity for its “Zoloft” and “Norvasc” products and the “Lipitor” treatment’s lackluster performance in the United States. Kindler maintained that the company would still meet its revenue goals for 2007 and 2008.

Laupheim, Germany (July 24)-Rentschler Biotechnologie commissioned two new GMP manufacturing suites and will complete the first-phase expansion of its operations. Manufacturing suites will produce therapeutic proteins and monoclonal antibodies. The new 500-L fermenter lines can run different cell-culture processes, depending on requirements. Two suites upstream and two suites downstream perform protein purification with state-of-the-art processes.

Lyon, France (July 20)-Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of the sanofi-aventis Group (Paris), completed the construction of its new influenza-vaccine manufacturing facility in Swiftwater, Pennsylvania. The facility is expected to more than double the company’s production capacity in the United States.

Wayne, PA (July 19)-Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell said Shire Pharmaceuticals, a global specialty-biopharmaceuticals company, will create 390 new jobs within four years by expanding its operations in the state. Rendell said Shire will also retain 594 existing jobs as part of its $30 million headquarters-expansion project in Chester County.

People Notes

Hawthorne, NY (July 20)-Mary Fisher, chief operating officer of Acorda Therapeutics, resigned to pursue other interests. “All of us at Acorda thank Mary for her many contributions to the Company during the past seven years,” said Ron Cohen, the company’s president and CEO.

Palo Alto, CA (July 18)-Nasrat Hakim joined Alexza Pharmaceuticals as vice-president of quality. He will develop and execute quality-program strategies for Alexza’s manufacturing operations and preclinical and clinical product candidates.

Leiden, The Netherlands, (July 18)-Dutch biotechnology company Crucell N.V. appointed Björn Sjöstrand to head its vaccines business unit. Sjöstrand formerly was CEO of SBL Vaccines(Stockholm), which Crucell acquired in November 2006. Crucell also appointed Arthur Lahr to head its protein business unit. Lahr was Crucell’s chief strategy officer and executive vice-president of sales and business development. Both Sjöstrand and Lahr will remain members of Crucell’s management committee.

Mississauga, ON, Canada (July 20)-Draxis Health named Jean-Pierre Robert president of Draxis Specialty Pharmaceuticals (DSP), the company’s wholly owned operating subsidiary that provides sterile products, nonsterile products, and radiopharmaceutical products. Robert assumes responsibility for Draxis Pharma, the contract manufacturing division of DSP, which produces sterile and nonsterile products for pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients.

Cambridge, MA (July 23)-Genstruct, a biotechnology company, announced that Christopher Z. Thomajan has become its new chief financial officer. In this position, Thomajan will oversee the company’s day-to-day financial and investor relations activities and longer term growth strategies.

Flemington, NJ (July 25)-NovaDel Pharma announced that Jan H. Egberts, MD, resigned as president and CEO and from her role as a member of the company’s board of directors. The board appointed its chairman, Steven B. Ratoff, to serve as interim president and CEO.

Basel (July 19)-Roche announced that Severin Schwan, CEO of Roche Diagnostics, will succeed Franz B. Humer as chief executive of the Roche Group at the next annual shareholders’ meeting on March 4, 2008. Humer will focus on his role as chairman of Roche Holdings. Severin Schwan’s successor as CEO of Roche Diagnostics will be announced at a later date.

Vienna (July 26)-Sanochemia Pharmazeutika AG announced that Dr. Josef Böckmann tendered his resignation from the positions of chairman and CEO to the supervisory board, citing personal reasons. The board accepted his decision. Böckmann’s resignation will take effect on September 30, 2007.

Shanghai (July 24)-WuXi PharmaTech, a supplier of pharmaceutical research and development outsourcing services, named Dr. Deepak Hegde vice-president of formulation development services. Hegde previously served as general manager of the drug delivery research laboratory at USV Ltd. (Mumbai).