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Brief pharmaceutical news items for April 2009.
Phil Meeks, chief executive officer of Azopharma Product Development Group
What is the biggest industry challenge you're now facing?
For the moment, the current economic situation and its effect on small and virtual biotechnology companies is our biggest challenge. These small companies are sensitive to changes in the flow of capital from the investment community. They are also the segment of the pharmaceutical industry that depends most on contract research organizations (CROs) such as Azopharma Product Development Group for their drug development. Lack of resources for biopharmaceutical companies has translated into cash-flow challenges for the CRO industry. For example, the credit crunch has forced many biopharmaceutical companies to reprioritize their programs and to delay or even cancel portions of their drug development that was previously planned for outsourcing. As a result, CROs have to work harder to identify new business opportunities in smaller companies. It also means a greater reliance on large, established companies that typically have consistent cash flows.
Do you see a new industry trend emerging?
For the CRO industry, the most important trend is the integration of related services to support drug development. At Azopharma, we call this bundling. We feel that bundling services is an excellent way for clients to save time and money on drug development. For example, preclinical development encompasses a multitude of tasks beyond dosing animals and analyzing samples. It includes the synthesis of material, short-term and long-term animal studies, metabolite identification, and statistical analysis. True preclinical development requires the thoughtful orchestration of various disciplines. At Azopharma, we provide both the orchestra and the conductor. This strategy allows our clients to minimize downtime, reduce their number of vendors, and streamline the drug-development process, which ultimately saves financial resources. Azopharma provides bundled services for all the major pharmaceutical development areas, including preclinical; chemistry, manufacturing, and controls; and clinical.
Catalent Names New CEO
Catalent Pharma Solutions (Somerset, NJ) appointed John Chiminski as president and chief executive officer (CEO). Chiminski will also serve as a member of the company's board of directors. George Fotiades, who had served as interim president and CEO, stepped down, but continues to serve as chairman of Catalent's board of directors.
Chiminski most recently served as the president and chief executive officer of GE Medical Diagnostics, a $1.9-billion division of GE Healthcare (Waukesha, WI) and a leader in diagnostic imaging agents. In his 21-year tenure at GE, Chiminski held senior management positions of increasing responsibility in various businesses.
Authentication Solution Passes Landmark
One of XStream Systems's (Sebastian, FL) deployed material identification systems has surpassed a significant milestone by scanning and authenticating more than 20,000 bottles of drugs in a single location.
The single XT250 system, located in a prominent specialty-pharmaceutical distributor in the Southeast, has run in double and triple shifts and checked all of the company's incoming products. The unit is an integral part of inventory security and control and helps ensure that the distributor's inventory does not contain counterfeit or adulterated products.
"We are very excited about this milestone with this particular deployment of our system," said Alan Clock, senior vice-president of XStream Systems. "This system has been performing reliably and is responsible for detecting on average one counterfeit product per month since it has been installed."
FOSS Opens Company in Brazil
FOSS (Hillerød, Denmark) opened its own company FOSS Brazil in São Paolo, Brazil. The new company will strengthen FOSS's presence in a large, emerging market. FOSS Brazil will enhance the level of service that FOSS offers to its customer base, according to the company.
FOSS Brazil will support all market segments of FOSS, including the FOSS NIRSystems product line for the pharmaceutical, chemical, and related industries.
DRI Expands Asset-Tracking Division
Mike Silverstein, project manager of Direct Recruiters (Solon, OH), is now leading the expansion of the company's radio-frequency identification (RFID) and asset-tracking division. Silverstein is focusing on bringing senior executives, business-development professionals, engineers, and technical-support personnel together with clients that specialize in supply-chain and healthcare-automation systems and applications. "We are seeing a wide range of organizations advance their tracking practices, especially in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries," says Silverstein. "Right now, asset tracking is a hot topic and is being viewed as one of the most attractive applications of active RFID technology."