Week Of Feb. 8, 2010: Company And People Notes: VaxGen Shareholders Reject OXiGENE Merger; Roche Creates Research Hub In Singapore; And More.

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ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

VaxGen Shareholders Reject OXiGENE Merger; Roche Creates Research Hub In Singapore; And More.

Company Notes

AB SCIEX (Foster City, CA), a designer and manufacturer of mass spectrometers, reorganized as a new company dedicated to life-science analytical technologies. The company said its new operating structure will increase speed to market and expand service and support to the scientific community.

Generic-drug manufacturer Actavis (Hafnarfjordur Iceland) will expand its manufacturing site in Hafnarfjordur, Iceland. The expansion will increase the site’s capacity to approximately 1.5 billion tablets per year and create 50 new jobs. Production is expected to start at the new facility by the end of 2010.

AnaptysBio (San Diego, CA), a privately held therapeutic-antibody platform and product company, will collaborate with Merck & Co. (Whitehouse Station NJ) to develop antibody therapeutics to an undisclosed disease target. AnaptysBio will generate antibodies to a specified disease target using its somatic hypermutation technology platform. Merck will receive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize antibodies optimized by AnaptysBio. which received an upfront sum and will receive milestone payments and royalties associated with products from the collaboration.

Gorbec Pharmaceutical Services (Durham, NC), a contract developer and manufacturer of prescription pharmaceuticals, will open a good-manufacturing-practice compliant analytical laboratory in Yantai, China. The facility, scheduled to open in May 2010, is expected to improve Gorbec’s efficiencies and reduce costs.

The biopharmaceutical company International Stem Cell (Oceanside, CA) announced that its new-cell production facility passed its final building inspection. The company will develop and manufacture clinical-grade stem-cell products at the facility, which is located close to fertility clinics that provide donated human eggs and also near prominent research institutions.

Clinical-stage biotechnology company Novavax (Rockville, MD) ended collaboration negotiations with ROVI Pharmaceuticals (Madrid) to develop Novavax’s virus-like-particle-based vaccines against influenza. Novavax is free to seek a new partner for its pandemic and seasonal-influenza vaccine.

Research-sciences company Peakdale Molecular (Chapel-en-le-Frith, UK) will supply synthetic-chemistry services to Pfizer (New York) at the company's laboratories in Sandwich, UK. The collaboration will involve more than 50 synthetic chemists from Pfizer and 90 from Peakdale. The collaboration will provide on-site chemistry resources for Pfizer and resources for other companies in the vicinity.

Biopharmaceutical company Poniard Pharmaceuticals (South San Francisco, CA) announced a 57% cut in its workforce to reduce operating costs. The cuts were effective Feb. 5, 2010 and reduced the company’s total employees to 21. Poniard expects the cuts to produce $4 million in reduced-annualized operating expenses in 2010.

Roche (Basel) announced a strategic alliance with Singapore’s scientific and medical institutions to create a translational research hub in Singapore. Called the “Hub for Translational Medicine,” the research hub is designed to further understanding of how scientific advances from preclinical research can be transferred in practice to patients. It will employ about 30 scientists.


sanofi-aventis (Paris) will enter the consumer healthcare market in China through an agreement with Minsheng Pharmaceutical Group (Hangzhou, China). The new venture will focus on vitamins and mineral supplements, which is China’s largest consumer healthcare segment, and sanofi-aventis will hold a majority equity stake.

Therapure Biopharma (Toronto) completed the commissioning and validation of its commercial-scale, pharmaceutical-grade, freeze dryer and now offers lyophilization for contract manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals. In other news, Therapure Biopharma signed a toll-manufacturing agreement with the biopharmaceutical company LFB Biomedicaments (France).

Thermo Fisher Scientific (Waltham, MA) agreed to acquire Finnzymes (Espoo, Finland), a provider of integrated tools for molecular-biology analysis, including reagents, instruments, consumables, and kits. Finnzymes, which has 90 employees and generated $20 million in revenues in 2009, provides comprehensive solutions for high-performance polymerase chain reaction (PCR), reverse transcription and real-time quantitative PCR.

The shareholders of biopharmaceutical company VaxGen (South San Francisco, CA) rejected a proposed merger with OXiGENE (South San Francisco, CA), a biopharmaceutical company focused on cancer and eye diseases. While more shareholders voted to approve the merger than to reject it, the number of approval votes fell short of the majority required to approve the merger.

People notes

Genzyme (Cambridge, MA) appointed Scott Canute president of global manufacturing and corporate operations. Canute was formerly the manufacturing head at Eli Lilly (Indianapolis, IN).

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK, London) appointed Philippe Fauchet president of GSK Japan. Philippe will report to Marc Dunoyer, who was appointed chairman of GSK Japan. Philippe joined GSK from sanofi-aventis where he was senior vice-president, business development. 

Poniard Pharmaceuticals (South San Francisco, CA) appointed Ronald A. Martell chief executive officer. He succeeds Jerry McMahon, who will remain non-executive chairman of the board. Michael S. Perry was named president and chief medical officer.