November 3, 2006 Company and People Notes: Avecia Enters Agreement with Illumigen, Biomira Acquires ProIX, More

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ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

Avecia, Illumigen, Biomira, ProIX

Company Notes


Tees Valley, UK (Oct. 31)-Avecia ( entered into a development and manufacturing agreement with Illumigen Biosciences Inc. (Seattle, WA, Avecia will be responsible for optimizing the drug manufacturing process and manufacturing sufficient quantities of Illumigen's development product IB657 for the treatment of Hepatitis C and other RNA viruses to complete Phase 1a clinical trials.

Edmonton, AB, Canada (Oct. 31)-Biomira Inc. ( acquired ProIX Pharmaceuticals Corporation (Tucson, AZ and Houston, TX). The acquisition provides Biomira with access to ProIX's portfolio of oncology products. Under the agreement, Biomira will pay US $3 million in cash and approximately $17.9 million in shares of common stock in return for all outstanding stock of ProIX. There may be as many as three additional payments if ProIX products reach certain milestones.


Houston, TX (Oct. 30)-EquaTerra ( acquired Avanti Advisory, LLC and added a team of IT outsourcing (ITO) advisors to its current ITO practice. The new executives joining EquaTerra include Peter Iannone, Avanti's founder, Joseph Zanko, former vice-president of ePierce Solutions, Mike Leszczuk, Dennis Krien, and Jerry Klawitter.

Waltham, MA (Oct. 30)-EyeGate Pharma ( began US operations at a 12,200 ft2 facility on Beaver Street in Waltham. In addition, the company introduced its new president and CEO, Stephen From, who previously served as chief financial officer.

Whitehouse Station, NJ (Oct. 31)-Merck ( announced its intention to acquire Sirna Therapeutics (San Francisco, CA, for $1.1 billion in cash. Merck agreed to pay $13 per share for Sirna's stock, which is approximately 50% more than the stock's value at the close of business on Monday.

Centerbrook, CT (Oct. 30)-Tower Laboratories, Ltd. ( purchased a 72,000-ft2 manufacturing facility in Montague, Michigan owned by Perrigo Company (Allegan, MI, The purchase includes the equipment and intellectual property to produce effervescent cold- and pain-relief products.

Portsmouth, UK (Oct. 3)-A team of scientists at the University of Portsmouth ( led by Dr. John Tsibouklis discovered a new method of delivering drugs to the eye. The team has found a way to combine biodegradable polymer nanoparticles with drugs so that the drugs are released in a controlled manner. If successful, the new method could help eliminate the disadvantages inherent in other methods of delivering drugs to the eye (e.g., eye drops must be administered often, drops do not always deliver medicine in a sufficiently targeted fashion, and ophthalmic inserts are difficult to handle and expensive to manufacture).

Rockville, MD (Oct. 31)-The US Pharmacopeial Convention (USP, is offering a new service to verify the quality of pharmaceutical ingredients. The service will be available to manufacturers of drug substances and excipients worldwide and will identify the pharmaceutical ingredients that meet USP's quality standards. In order to be USP verified, the ingredients must undergo a rigorous audit, testing, and review process. USP-verified ingredients will receive a certificate of standards compliance and will be permitted to display the USP-verified pharmaceutical ingredients mark on the shipping container. Verified ingredients will be subject to postverification surveillance testing.

People Notes

Denver, CO (Oct. 30)-ARCA Discovery, Inc. ( appointed Thomas A. Keuer executive vice-president of pharmaceutical operations. Keuer previously held positions at Insmed Inc., where he was senior vice-president of Insmed Therapeutic Proteins, and Baxter International.

San Francisco, CA (Oct. 31)-Cell Genesys, Inc. ( announced that Joseph J. Vallner, PhD, the company's president and chief operating officer has resigned. Company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Stephen A. Sherwin, MD, will assume Vallner's responsibilities. There are no immediate plans to replace Vallner.

Foxboro, MA (Nov. 2)-Former employee Tom Kinney has returned to Invensys ( as director of performance services. Kinney will be responsible for further developing and delivering plant-level performance service capabilities to support Invensys's asset-performance management business-optimization strategy.

Princeton, NJ (Oct. 31)-Kent Beech was appointed senior business development manager for the western United States, Western Canada, and Asia at Laureate Pharma ( Beech has more than 17 years of experience in the industry and has previously served with SAFC Pharma, Incyte Corporation, Clontech, and Amersham Biosciences.

San Francisco, CA (Nov. 2)-Mark Longer, PhD, joined Napo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ( as vice-president of program planning and management. Longer most recently served as senior director of pharmaceutical sciences at Pfizer Global R&D and was also a consultant for Napo.