June 14, 2007 Notes: Amgen to Acquire Altanos, Merck and Archemix Form Strategic Alliance, Lonza Expands API Manufacturing Site, more

June 14, 2007
Pharmaceutical Technology Editors
ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

Merck, Amgen, Lonza, Vical, more

Company Notes

Thousand Oaks, CA (June 6)-Amgen announced plans to acquire Altanos (Cambridge, MA) for $300 million. The boards of directors of both companies approved the acquisition, which is expected to close in the third quarter of 2007. After the closing, Altanos will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Amgen.

Cambridge, MA (June 11)-Archemix Corp. formed a multi-year strategic alliance with Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA. Together, the companies will discover, develop, and commercialize aptamer therapeutics for the treatment of cancer, using Archemic‘s proprietary “Selex” technology. Archemix will receive a $29.8-million equity investment from Merck, and Merck retains the option to acquire additional Archemix public stock under certain circumstances. Merck also may obtain product licenses to certain of Archemix's lead-stage aptamer programs in oncology.

Helsinki (June 1)-The new European Chemicals Agency began operations as the European chemicals legislation, REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and restrictions of Chemicals) came into force. REACH requires the registration of the 30,000 chemical substances currently in use, which will be coordinated through the Chemicals Agency. The agency hopes that registering the chemicals will help fill information gaps on hazards and allow for easier identification of the measures needed to manage risks.

Uppsala, Sweden (June 5)-GE Healthcare implemented an automation solution at its global headquarters in Uppsala that will help boost production of protein separation media. GE added two production units that are controlled and monitored by ABB‘s (Zurich, Switzerland) System 800xA automation system. GE expects to increase protein separation media production by as much as 50%.

Patterson, NY (June 11)-JRS Pharma LP and CoreRx Inc. (Tampa, FL) will collaborate to conduct formulation and development work on a number of generic drug candidates using JRS‘s proprietary ”ProSolv“ high-functionality excipient. The two companies hope to use the ProSolv technology to improve stability and bring manufacturing benefits to problematic drugs.

Bothell, WA (June 11)-Kurve Technology, Inc. expanded its agreement with Schering-Plough Corporation (Kenilworth, NJ) to allow Schering-Plough to evaluate and have exclusive rights to Kurve‘s controlled particle dispersion (CPD) drug-delivery platform in multiple fields of use. The CPD platform is capable of delivering almost any liquid drug with minimal peripheral deposition to the lungs and stomach.

Basel, Switzerland (May 29)-Lonza is expanding its active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturing site in Visp, Switzerland. The expansion will allow Lonza to produce highly potent APIs on a large scale to accommodate growing demand. The company plans to invest more than CHF 80 million (approximately $64.3 million) in the expansion, which will create as many as 40 new jobs.

Basel, Switzerland (June 13)-Novartis‘s influenza vaccine ”Optaflu“ received European Union approval in all 27 member states as well as Iceland and Norway. The vaccine is manufactured using Novartis‘s proprietary cell line rather than chicken eggs, which allows for faster and more flexible start-up of manufacturing.

Copenhagen (June 12)-Novo Nordisk inaugurated a new pilot plant for the development and production of biopharmaceuticals in Hillerød, Denmark. The plant is an extension of Novo‘s existing production facility in Hillerød. The 3500-m2 expansion houses development laboratories and production facilities and represents an investment of aproximately 350 million Danish kroner (approximately $62.5 million).

Zofingen, Switzerland (June 5)-Siegfried Generics inaugurated a new pharmaceutical production plant in Malta. The company develops, produces, and packages solid dosage forms including tablets, films, and hard gelatin capsules.

Mumbai, India (June 12)-The Pashamylaram unit of Suven Life Sciences received clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration (Rockville, MD). Suven may now manufacture and supply bulk drugs for shipment to the United States.

South San Francisco, CA (June 11)-VaxGen, Inc. and the Chemo-Sero Therapeutic Research Institute (Kumamoto, Japan) terminated their agreement to codevelop a smallpox vaccine. VaxGen will now transfer all reports, data and materials, and intellectual property rights related to the vaccine to Chemo-Sero. The termination of the agreement was attributed to the US government‘s lack of development funding for the vaccine.

San Francisco, CA (June 5)-VIA Pharmaceuticals, Inc. completed its merger with Corautus Genetics Inc. The combined companies will now take on the name ”Via Pharmaceuticals, Inc.“

San Diego, CA (June 12)-Vical Inc. was awarded a three-year, $6-million contract from the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, MD) to further develop its DNA vaccine manufacturing process. Vical recently introduced its manufacturing process, "RapidResponse," which uses DNA rather than chicken eggs or cell cultures to produce vaccines.

People Notes

Durham, NC (June 7)-Inspire Pharmaceuticals, Inc.named Stephen D. Celestini senior vice-president and chief compliance officer. Celestini previously held positions with Salix Pharmaceuticals, Ltd. and GlaxoWellcome.

Evanston, IL (June 11)-Richard D. Newman, PhD, was promoted to a leadership role in regulatory affairs with Northfield Laboratories, Inc. Newman has served as a consultant to Northfield on regulatory matters since 2003. He also held various positions at Procter and Gamble, G.D. Searle, and Baxter Healthcare Corp.

Woodcliff Lake, NJ (June 7)-Par Pharmaceutical Companies, Inc. appointed Gerard A. Martino executive vice-president and chief operating officer. In this capacity, Martino will oversee manufacturing, supply-chain operations, quality assurance and control, and corporate affairs.

Brisbane, Australia (June 8)-Progen Pharmaceuticals named John Devlin vice-president of manufacturing operations.

Rockville, MD (June 11)-The United States Pharmacopeia announced two new additions to its staff. Darrell Abernethy, MD, PhD, joins the organization as chief science officer, and William Koch, PhD, was appointed chief reference materials officer. Abernethy joins USP after serving as chief of laboratory and clinical investigation with the National Institute of Aging at the National Institutes of Health. In his new role, he will lead the development of documentary standards that comprise USP‘s publications, including the United States Pharmacopeia-National Formulary. Koch previously was deputy director of the chemical science and technology laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. As chief reference materials officer, he will lead USP‘s measurement science initiatives and manage the production of reference standards.

Cranbury, NJ (June 6)-VaxInnate named Edward J. Arcuri, PhD, chief operations officer. In this capacity, he will oversee the development and operations activities of clinical candidates, including quality assurance, quality control, and regulatory affairs. Arcuri has held various manufacturing positions with companies including MedImmune, Inc., Emergent Biosolutions, Inc., and Merck.