Industry Insight with Chester: A Collection of Current Industry Updates

Welcome to another posting of ‘Industry Insight with Chester,’ a periodic round-up of news and views from around the Pharma and biopharma industries compiled by Chester Solack, Business Analyst at SAFC in Lenexa, Kansas.

Abbott – NIH halts Niaspan study – 26 May 11

The NIH has stopped a study with Abbott Laboratories’ cholesterol fighter Niaspan 18 months early after results showed the drug failed to prevent heart attacks and even may have boosted stroke risk.


AstraZeneca – EU yanks Nexium patent – 13 Jun 11

AstraZeneca lost a European patent fight over Nexium, as regulators there invalidated one patent on the stomach drug. Thirteen generics makers had challenged the patent, which also is under review at a trial in the U.K.; the company says it’s reviewing its options.

Bayer – Brings the Ax to Emeryville, CA – 27 May 11

Bayer HealthCare is winding down production of its blockbuster multiple sclerosis drug Betaseron in Emeryville, CA, and moving it to Germany. The move will cost about 540 people their jobs beginning next year. The drug eventually will be produced under a contract with Boehringer Ingelheim, which makes the med for overseas use. All layoffs will be completed by 2013, the Contra Costa Times notes.


Covidien – Looks to sell Pharma Business – 8 Jun 11

Another pharma unit is on the block. Covidien has hired JPMorgan Chase to handle the potential sale of its drugs business, and the deal could be worth up to $4 billion, Bloomberg reports. Shedding the pharma business would allow the company to focus more closely on medical devices, a strategy departing CEO Richard Meelia disclosed in March.


Gilead subpoenaed on manufacturing – 13 Jun 11

Gilead Sciences discovered that it’s the target of another U.S. government probe. The Justice Department has subpoenaed documents about the company’s manufacturing, quality control and distribution, focused on five marketed drugs and one experimental compound. While the company wouldn’t offer details, Reuters notes that FDA recently warned Gilead about infractions at its San Dimas, CA, plant where many of its drugs are made.


J&J’s Centocor – Inks $555M antibody deal with Aveo – 31 May 11

With its lead cancer drug forging ahead in Phase III and a major development deal with Astellas helping pay for a burgeoning staff, Cambridge, MA-based AVEO announced a new development pact with Johnson & Johnson this morning. J&J’s Centocor unit will fork over $15 million upfront and up to $540 million in milestones for the biotech’s internally discovered antibodies targeting the Recepteur d’Origine Nantais receptor, a potential tumor regulator. Half of that upfront comes as cash, the other half through the purchase of stock.


J&J – Lays out plan for 11 new meds – 26 May 11

Cloistered with analysts today in a session devoted to its future performance, J&J officials outlined plans to gain approvals for 11 new medications by the end of 2015. And their development strategy includes more than 30 planned extensions of product lines. There are billions of dollars in revenue riding on the company’s potential success. As Reuters notes, Sanford Bernstein analyst Derrick Sung has projected $6 billion in sales for six new drugs: “Stelara for psoriasis, Simponi for rheumatoid arthritis, Zytiga for prostate cancer, HIV drug Edurant, hepatitis C medicine telaprevir–for which J&J has European rights–and blood-clot preventer Xarelto.”


Merck – Inks $720M generic Enbrel deal – 13 Jun 11

Merck has its eye on gaining a piece of the multi-billion dollar market for etanercept (Enbrel). The pharma giant has landed a deal to develop and commercialize a knockoff version of Amgen’s mega-blockbuster arthritis drug that was developed by South Korea-based Hanwha Chemical.


Novartis – Looking toward acquisitions – 7 Jun 11

Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez said last week that one prime dealmaking area for his company might be diagnostics. Along with potential buys in animal health, generics, biotech and consumer health, the right diagnostics deal could induce Novartis to pay as much as $3 billion, he said.


Novo Nordisk – Moves to protect China market share – 1 Jun 11

Novo Nordisk won’t cede its dominance in China so easily. The Denmark-based diabetes specialist will increase its investments in that country to keep hold of its No. 1 slot, COO Kaare Schultz said. “We don’t fear any competition,” Schultz avowed. Schultz was responding to news that Sanofi, which is making inroads in many emerging markets, would train more than 10,000 doctors and diabetes-care experts in a Chinese government program designed to help contain the disease, Bloomberg reports. Well, Novo won’t let that effort go unanswered, Schultz said.


Pfizer – Tries to postpone Viagra patent cliff – 13 Jun 11

Could Pfizer get a reprieve on Viagra? It all depends on what happens in a federal trial beginning this week. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the company is trying to extend its exclusivity on the impotence drug by invoking a patent that doesn’t expire till 2019. If affirmed, that patent would give up to seven years of extra oomph to Viagra sales.


Pfizer – Another $1B in cuts – 8 Jun 11

All the cost-cutting Pfizer has already planned apparently won’t be enough. The Wall Street Journal reports the drugmaker is scouring its operations for an additional $1 billion in annual savings. Most of the squeeze will come from the administrative side of the business, sources tell the Journal.


Pfizer – Inks joint Venture with China’s Hisun Pharma – 3 Jun 11

Pfizer has agreed to team with a Chinese drugmaker on branded generics. The company has inked a memorandum of understanding with Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceuticals to collaborate on manufacturing and marketing off-patent drugs. Under the deal, both companies could contribute existing products and other assets to the joint venture. Branded generics are a big business in China, accounting for some 60 percent of the drug market, Dow Jones reports. And that drug market is growing at a rapid pace, far faster than mature markets such as the U.S. and Europe.


Synageva & Trimeris – Merger deal announced – 13 Jun 11

A year after its proposed $81 million acquisition deal with a Korean company fell through, Durham, NC-based Trimeris has struck an all-stock merger pact with Synageva, a Lexington, MA-based biotech which specializes in developing drugs for rare diseases. Under the pact Synageva’s management stays in control of the merged operation–gaining Trimeris’s Fuzeon, a marketed HIV drug partnered with Roche that has delivered disappointing earnings in the past–and managing to snag a public listing at a time IPOs have proven hard for biotechs to pull off.


Takeda – Actos cancer drug suspended by France and Germany – 9-10 Jun 11

Germany became the second European country to suspend sales of Takeda Pharmaceuticals’ Actos drug, the company’s top seller. Just after France announced that it would block sales of Actos because of research suggesting an association between long-term use and bladder cancer, Germany joined in. The rest of Europe is waiting for authorities to finish their analysis of the data.


Vertex – Inks $1.5B Hep C pact with Alios – 13 Jun 11

Now that Vertex’s lead blockbuster program for Incivek has crossed the finish line at the FDA, the biotech company is committing up to $775 million–$60 million upfront–to land global rights to two preclinical hepatitis C programs held by Alios BioPharma as it sets the stage for the development of future cocktail therapies.


Watson Pharma – Expands into Europe with $562M Specifar buy – 26 May 11

Watson Pharmaceuticals has snapped up a fellow generics maker for $562 million as it aims to expand in Europe. Greece’s Specifar, which comes in fifth in its home country’s branded generics market, boasts about $120 million in annual sales–much of it off licensing deals in 36 countries.


Chester Solack has been with Sigma-Aldrich’s SAFC family since May 2004. He currently is a Business Analyst in the SAFC Analytics Team. The vision of the team is to deliver actionable insight into our SAFC Business by optimizing analytical solutions in supporting SAFC Management decisions and predictions around future performance. Chester is currently working on a B.S. in Business Management. In his spare time he enjoys volunteering for the Kansas City Police Department and Special Olympics of Missouri – Kansas City Metro chapter.

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