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News in brief, June 07, 2007

The latest news in brief

 

Financial news

Qiagen acquires Digene for USD 1.6bn
Qiagen, a Dutch manufacturer of genetic testing equipment, has revealed it will buy US- headquartered molecular diagnostics company, Digene, for USD 1.6bn in cash and stock. Qiagen has targeted Digene due to its flagship product, the Digene HPV Test (DNAwithPap Test), which is the only FDAñapproved test for the human papillomavirus (HPV), the primary cause of cervical cancer. Holders of Digene shares will receive cash and shares of Qiagen valuing each Digene share at USD 61.25, or 37 per cent above the closing value on 1 June. Qiagen predicts that Digene will add revenue of approximately USD 60m in Q4 FY07 and USD 270m for FY08. The combined company is forecast to post molecular diagnostics revenues of over USD 350m and overall revenues of over USD 800m in FY08. Excluding charges and costs, the purchase should dilute Qiagen's Q4 adjusted EPS by USD 0.03 to USD 0.04. The deal, which should close in August or September 2007, is forecast to increase Qiagenís FY08 EPS by USD 0.02-0.04.

FWP investment trust sets up M&A account
The Finsbury Worldwide Pharmaceutical investment trust has said it plans to transfer five per cent of its portfolio into a special M&A account, which will be structured as a derivative. FWP which is majority controlled by Frostrow Capital and is managed from Boston by US pharmaceuticals manager Sam Islay from Orbimed Advisers. Islay says the pharmaceuticals sector is due to experienced increased M&A activity and has proposed to the trust board that it should create a credit default swap designed to benefit, should any forecast transactions occur. Islay added that the formation of the M&A account is a way of preparing for the increased political risk that he says is affecting the pharmaceuticals market. Over the past five years to 30 April 2007, FWP has experienced a net asset value drop of 0.3 per cent, compared with a rise in the MSCI Pharmaceuticals index of 29.2 per cent.

Clinical news

TroVax phase II renal cancer data reported
Oxford BioMedica and sanofi-aventis have published new data from two phase II trials of TroVax for renal cancer. TroVax is Oxford BioMedica's lead cancer immunotherapy product, which is being developed in collaboration with sanofi-aventis. The phase II data were presented by Oxford BioMedica and its clinical associates from the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) on 3 June. Fifty-three patients with progressive metastatic renal cell cancer (RCC) have been enrolled and 48 patients are being evaluated in two non-randomised phase II trials. The trials are designed to evaluate the treatment either as a single agent, or in combination with either interleukin-2 or interferon-alpha. The treatment regimen in the two trials comprises seven intramuscular injections of TroVax over 41 weeks. The patients had previously failed various anti-cancer treatments before entering the trials. TroVax was well tolerated with no serious adverse events attributable to the treatment and induced anti-5T4 antibody responses in 91 per cent of patients. In patients with clear cell RCC, which is the most common subtype of renal cancer and is the patient group for the phase III TRIST study, 24 of 35 (68 per cent) patients showed disease control. Two patients had complete responses, three had partial responses and 19 had stable disease for periods exceeding three months, including three patients that have been stable for more than 17 months.

Takeda halts development of Actos/TAK-536 combination candidate
Japanís largest pharmaceutical company, Takeda Pharmaceutical, has revealed it will halt the development of its best-selling diabetes drug, Actos (pioglitazone), which it was testing in combination with investigational drug TAK-536. The product was in phase III studies in the US. Takeda explained it had dropped the project after finding it needed to improve the combination drug's formulation before submitting a new drug application. It decided that the company's money and time was better spent on other projects. A company spokesperson said that termination of the product was not linked to the development of SYR-322, which belongs to a new type of diabetes drugs. SYR-322 is a DPP-4 inhibitor, which works by enhancing the body's own ability to lower elevated blood sugar and avoiding the weight gain side-effects with some other drugs. Januvia, a DPP-inhibitor from Merck & Co, is the first DPP-4 inhibitor to receive approval in the US and the EU.

Nexavar extends liver cancer survival rate
Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals and Onyx Pharmaceuticals have revealed data which shows their Nexavar (sorafenib) liver cancer treatment significantly extends overall survival in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), or primary liver cancer by 44 per cent. Results were presented at the 43rd annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The international, phase III, placebo-controlled Sorafenib HCC Assessment Randomised Protocol (SHARP) Trial evaluated 602 liver cancer patients who had no prior systemic therapy at sites in the Americas, EU and Australia/New Zealand. The primary endpoint of the trial was to compare overall survival in patients on Nexavar with those on placebo. Median overall survival was 10.7 months in Nexavar-treated patients, compared with 7.9 months in those taking placebo. Bayer and Onyx halted the SHARP trial back in February 2007 when an independent data-monitoring committee determined in a pre-scheduled analysis that the overall survival endpoint had been met. There were no significant differences in serious adverse event rates between the Nexavar and placebo-treated groups, with the most commonly observed serious adverse events in patients receiving Nexavar being diarrhoea and hand-foot-skin reaction. Both firms are now preparing applications to the FDA and European health authorities for a supplemental indication for Nexavar in treatment of patients with liver cancer.

Pharma industry news

Poland's premier suggests health privatisation referendum
The Prime Minister of Poland, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has proposed a referendum on the privatisation of health care, prompted by an ongoing strike by hospital doctors who are demanding higher wages. Doctors have been on strike in a third of the country's 600 hospitals since 21 May, providing emergency cover only, according to Krzysztof Bukiel, head of the Ogolnopolskiego Zwiazku Zawodowego Lekarzy (OZZL) doctors' union which organised the strike. Polish hospital doctors make a basic monthly salary of PLN 1,500 (EUR 399, USD 535). OZZL is campaigning for large pay rises, for example demanding PLN 7,500 (USD 2,647/ EUR 1,960) a month for specialists.

Roche recalls HIV drug Viracept over chemical impurity
Swiss pharmaceutical company, Roche, in agreement and cooperation with Health Authorities (EMEA and Swissmedic), has recalled in the EU and other regions all batches of Viracept powder and tablets (nelfinavir). The US, Canada and Japan are not affected by this recall. Roche received several reports that some batches of Viracept 250mg tablets have a strange odour. A detailed chemical analysis of the affected tablets showed they contain higher than normal levels of methane sulfonic acid ethylester, which is carcenogenic. In the interest of patients safety Roche has decided to recall all batches of Viracept tablets and powder. Patients have been advised to contact their doctors to discuss alternative therapies. Viracept is a protease inhibitor is supplied by Roche outside the US and Canada. Viracept was first introduced by Roche in 1998.

Novacea and S-P sign agreement for prostate cancer treatment
Novacea and Schering-Plough (S-P) have entered into an exclusive worldwide license agreement for the development and commercialisation of Asentar (calcitrol), a novel prostate cancer agreement. Novacea is conducting an international phase III trial called ASCENT-2, which is evaluating Asentar in 900 patients with androgen-independent prostate cancer (AIPC). Asentar is a novel, proprietary, high-dose oral formulation of calcitriol, a potent hormone which exerts its effects through the vitamin D receptor. Novacea will receive an upfront payment of USD 60m, which includes USD 35m for past R&D expenses, a license fee of USD 25m and a commitment by S-P to purchase USD 12m of Novacea common stock at a predetermined price within ten days of closing. Novacea will also gain potential pre-commercial milestone payments of up to USD 380m and tiered royalties on global sales of Asentar. The transaction is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Antitrust Improvements Act (HSR). S-P will be responsible for all forward development costs in exploring indications for earlier stages of prostate cancer, such as androgen-dependent prostate cancer (ADPC) and adjuvant therapy and will lead all global commercialisation efforts for Asentar. Novacea will provide medical support to S-P's US commercial operations for Asentar, including deployment of their Medical Science Liaisons, which S-P will fund.

Almirall to float 30 per cent of capital
Spanish drugs firm Almirall will float up to 30 per cent of its capital in June in a deal valuing the firm at over EUR 2bn (USD 2.7bn), according to terms approved by the Spanish stock market regulator. Almirall will sell 49.8m shares in the deal at an indicative price range between EUR 12.5 and EUR 15.5 per share, which values the group at between EUR 2.1bn and EUR 2.6bn. Book-building began on 1 June 2007 and the offer will be priced on 18 June 2007. The first day of trade will be 20 June 2007.

Sloning and Microsynth announcing exclusive distribution partnership
Germany-based Sloning Biotechnology has revealed a distribution partnership with Microsynth, a provider of custom oligonucleotide synthesis and DNA sequencing to the Swiss market. Microsynth will exclusively market and sell Sloning¥s gene synthesis service (Slonomics) and the product family of mutant libraries (Slonomax) in Switzerland. ìWe are very pleased that Microsynth will join our global network of qualified distributors. With its strong technological expertise, market position and service philosophy Microsynth is the ideal partner for Sloning to develop the Swiss marketî stated Thomas Matthes, the company CBO. Dr Tobias Schmidheini, founder and CEO of Microsynth added: ìSloning¥s products and services perfectly complement our portfolio. Itís a strategic development for our organisation. We are looking forward to offer Sloning¥s products to our customer base.î

Xceleron / Sanofi aventis sign services agreement deal
Xceleron, an UK-based analytical strategist for drug development, has revealed that after signing a Master Services Agreement with sanofi-aventis Deutschland, a number of studies are underway to assess the human metabolism of novel compounds in early clinical development. Xceleronís technology enables human drug-metabolite profiling to be performed in the early stages of clinical development; ideally as part of an enhanced phase I study. This type of analysis allows drug developers to detect and measure ultra-low levels of both known and previously unknown metabolites producing data that isnít available using other analytical techniques. The discovery of novel human-specific metabolites at the later stages of clinical development is therefore avoided with potentially significant financial savings. Early human profiling also helps identify the most suitable species for use in long term toxicology and pharmacology studies.

AZ buys biologics facility in Canada
AstraZeneca (AZ) has acquired a biologics manufacturing facility in Montreal, Canada, from Canadian DSM Biologics. The facility, which takes up 6131.6 square metres, will be used to manufacture antibody drug candidates for clinical trials and will serve the whole of the AZ group. Dr John Patterson, AZís executive director of development, said: ìThis is a further step in our global plan to accelerate the delivery of promising pre-clinical biopharmaceutical candidate drugs into our development portfolio. It extends the set of supply capabilities we have assembled through MedImmune and Cambridge Antibody Technology (CAT) and takes advantage of the biotechnology skills in Quebec.î Work will now start to re-commission the facility, and the company plans to commence full scale production in 2009.

NHS news

UK hospital hygiene spot checks commence
The Healthcare Commission has revealed plans to investigate primary healthcare trusts which have been reported as failing to prevent healthcare associated infections, such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile. The commissionís watchdog will perform unannounced visits at 120 trusts to see if hospitals are meeting their statutory duty under the governmentís Hygiene Code, which began back in March 2007. If the commission identifies code violations, it will force trusts to outline an action plan to solve any problems within a specified time. If trusts continue to fail set goals, the commission will publicly issue an improvement noticeí, which will force trusts to make immediate improvements. In extreme cases, it also has the power to involve the health secretary.

Patient Opinion website goes nationwide to drive NHS change
Independent, not-for-profit campaigning group, Patient Opinion, has launched its website nationwide. The site is an independent platform for patients to share their experiences and make informed choices about their healthcare and facilitate change within the NHS. Dr Paul Hodgkin, Patient Opinionís CEO, said: ìPatients throughout England are playing an active role in driving change in the NHS. We want patients to log on to www.patientopinion.org.uk and feedback their positive and negative experiences of hospital care in England. Patient Opinion directs patient feedback straight to the hospital managers who need to see it, for subscribing hospitals. This independent feedback to the NHS motivates staff by providing the recognition they deserve and also helps clinicians and managers to improve services.î The site also enables subscribing hospitals to respond to feedback online.

CRO news

Russian clinical trials increase in Q1 2007
According to Synergy Research Group, a Russia-headquartered CRO, growth in the number of clinical trials approved by the Russian Federal Agency for Health Care and Social Development (Roszdravnadzor) was approximately 40 per cent in Q1 2007, compared with Q1 2006. At the same time, the share of clinical studies initiated by Russian manufacturers has increased.

Regulatory news

New drugs lacking HTA data
According to the European Medicines Agency (EMEA), governments and health insurers are unaware of the cost-effectiveness of most new drugs when they reach the market. Thomas Lonngren, executive director of the EMEA said in a speech at the annual meeting of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries on 1 June that there was a gap in the system, as 70 per cent of the products approved had no attached Health Technology Assessment (HTA) data relating value for money. Lonngren added that governments did not know that when a new product was approved how it would perform and that such products must have cost-effectiveness factored into their approval process as a matter of course. Uptake of HTAs to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of new medicines is increasing among governments globally. However, many companies do not provide HTA data as a matter of course to help governments make informed decisions on value. Lonngren concluded that a way to address this could be to conduct more post-authorisation studies looking at drugs in a real-world setting, rather than the artificial environment of clinical trials.

BTG wins orphan approval for cancer drug
BTG, the UK life sciences company, has said that its cancer drug plevitrexed (BGC 9331) has been granted US orphan drug designation for ovarian and gastric cancer indications. Orphan drug status allows for seven years of marketing exclusivity upon FDA approval of the drug for ovarian or gastric cancers. FDA orphan drug designation provides incentives to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to develop drugs for the treatment of diseases affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the US. BTGís Head of R&D, Dr Russell Hagan said: ìBTG is pleased to have received US orphan drug designation for plevitrexed, our lead oncology compound. We are currently seeking a partner to take plevitrexed further through development and to the market for these important indications as well potentially in other solid tumoursî.

FDA accepts Abilify paediatric schizophrenia sNDA for priority review
Privately owned Japanese pharmaceutical company, Otsuka, and US marketing partner, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) have revealed that the FDA has accepted for priority (six month review target) review the supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) of the atypical antipsychotic Abilify (aripiprazole) for the treatment of paediatric patients aged 13-17 years with schizophrenia. The sNDA is based on data from a six-week, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled study, sponsored by Otsuka and its US-based subsidiary, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development & Commercialisation, which is evaluating the use of Abilify in 302 ethnically diverse paediatric patients and was conducted at 101 centres in 13 countries. In March 2007, Barr Pharmaceuticals made a Paragraph IV challenge against Otsuka regarding the aripiprazole patent. Based on IMS sales data ending in January 2007, Abilify was worth USD 1.9bn in annual sales. Otsuka then filed a patent infringement lawsuit in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey. Abilify is licensed to BMS and received US approval in 2002. Paragraph IV certification would likely have given Barr 180 days of exclusive marketing rights.

FDA risk communications panel
The FDA has announced plans for a new advisory committee which will offer guidance on how to improve communication of risks and benefits of FDA-regulated products to the public. The committee is tasked with helping the FDA better understand the publicís communication needs and priorities; advising the agency on the development of strategic plans to communicate product risks and benefits; and making recommendations based on current research regarding effectively crafting risk and benefit messages, as well as communicating information to vulnerable populations. Called The Risk Communication Advisory Committee, the panel will include 15 voting members not affiliated with the FDA. Experts will be drawn from fields such as social marketing, health literacy, cultural competency, journalism and bioethics. Nominations are currently being accepted.

PR & Marketing industry news

Thailand's hires unnamed PR firm to improve its US image
US media reports have revealed that the Thai government is to spend USD 55,000 a month on a PR campaign directed at US audiences to fight allegations by the intellectual property campaign group, USA for Innovation (USAI), that the country is violating international law by approving generic manufacturing of patented drugs. On 9 May, USAI announced an advertising campaign in Thailand aimed at highlighting what they saw as the countryís theft of US and EU medical technology at the expense of the poor and sick. The advertisement, a full-page advertisement in The Nation, highlighted the actions of Health Minister Mongkol Na Songkhla, which the group claimed hurt jobs, investment and access to safe medicines for the people of Thailand. USAI is led by Ken Adelman, who does unrelated consulting work for Edelman, which, until recently, represented Thaksin Shinawatra, who was Thailand's exiled ex-prime minister ousted by its military, in a USD 50,000-per-month deal. Edelman has remained silent on the deal. In October 2006, the Thai government hired strategic communications firm T Dean Reed for USD 10,000 a month, according to a Justice Department filing.

inVentiv Health acquires Addison Whitney
Addison Whitney, the US-based full service brand identity and consulting firm for pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical companies, has been acquired by inVentiv Health. Addison Whitney will remain and operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of inVentiv Health, within the inVentiv Communications division. AdMedia Partners, a New York-headquartered financial advisory firm represented Addison Whitney in the acquisition. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Addison Whitneyís healthcare division, works with clients such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novartis, sanofi-aventis, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Takeda, Boehringer Ingelheim, Wyeth, and Cephalon. The company also supports branding strategies for consumer goods and high technology companies in its non-healthcare division. Upon the close of the transaction, Addison Whitney will become a wholly- owned subsidiary of inVentiv Health. The Addison Whitney brand will survive, while the business will operate within the inVentiv Communications division under the leadership of William O'Donnell, who recently became President and COO of inVentiv.

Orbitsville opens new UK division
Swedish online sales and marketing specialist, Orbitsville, has opened an office in Manchester, UK. Since 2001, Orbitsville has provided tailored solutions for a range of global pharmaceutical and healthcare organisations. Daniel Bevan heads up the Manchester office and joined Orbitsville UK from Marcus Evans.

Sante Communications joins Financial Dynamics  
Sante Communications has become part of the FD (Financial Dynamics) group. Sante has been expanding its global offering for a number of years and the FD network will greatly enhance the companyís client focus, it says. FD has offices in London, New York, Bahrain, Beijing, Boston, Cape Town, Chicago, Dubai, Dublin, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Manchester, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Stockholm and Washington. Sante Communications added that the association with FD will bring many additional benefits to its clients, offering an range of consulting skills in the healthcare sector, spanning medical education, PR, brand marketing, greater public affairs expertise, financial, corporate and broader issues communications.

Pharma sales and marketing jobs in Germany under threat
According to local media reports, a third of all pharmaceutical sales and marketing jobs in Germany could be cut within five years. The German newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, cited research by consultancy firm Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH) which said that revenues at drugs companies could decrease by a double-digit amount within the next five years, due to political pressure to cap the price of drugs. BAH says they questioned 42 per cent of 150 heads of sales units.

CommonHealth talent share programme
WPPís CommonHealth communications network has launched a new Global Talent Share Programme, which is designed to serve as a recruitment tool and an incentive for current staff, as well as to increase collaboration across the network. The programmes first participant is Anne Brown, a senior copywriter at CommonHealthís Altum unit, who has relocated to CommonHealth London, where she will be working on a copywriting assignment for about three months. The company said it hopes to expand the programme, offering the opportunity for temporary EU relocations to its US creative teams and account executives and allowing members of its European staff the chance to complete a stint at its Parsippany, New Jersey, headquarters.

New DMC launched
Ann Kottcamp, former CEO of Pharmaceutical Research Plus, is launching Argonauta Communications, a new patient recruitment and direct marketing company. The company will offer clinical trial recruitment and direct marketing services, but with an enhanced approach they are calling Message, Method, Mix. Kottcamp believes that the approach will allow the company to reach patients in an efficient manner which is different from traditional advertising methods. She said: ìUtilising our expertise in leading patients to treatment options through clinical trials, we also plan to expand our offerings to include advertising and marketing for other healthcare services." A major goal of the company is to focus on diversity initiatives with respect to advertising, marketing, and outreach. Many diseases have varied effects on different ethnicities, and pharmaceutical companies and the FDA are showing increasing interest in learning about these differences. The challenge is effectively reaching these populations to gain their trust, confidence, and interest in participating in research. Argonauta Communications will overcome this challenge by forming strategic partnerships with targeted media outlets and organisations.

Lowe forms new healthcare agency
A group of veterans of Lowe Healthcareís PACE division have formed a new healthcare communications company called PIVOT. Cindy Schermerhorn, formerly executive vice-president and director of client services at PACE, is serving as PIVOTís president and CEO. She is joined by partners Kerry Cavender, senior vice-president and director of client services; CFO Anthony Cannon; and Adele Penza, vice-president and account group supervisor. Cavender was formerly senior vice-president and management supervisor at PACE, where she led the team on Pfizerís blockbuster glaucoma drug Xalatan (latanoprost) and also handled the agencyís Taro Pharmaceutical assignment. Cannon was formerly vice-president and CFO for Loweís Interlink Healthcare Communications and PACE. Penza was account group supervisor for PACEís US team for Xalatan. PIVOT has thus far been awarded a confidential AOR product launch assignment, as well as work for Daiichi Sanko and ION Healthcare.

Euro RSCG Life realignment
Euro RSCG Life is realigning its Chicago-based agency under the Euro RSCG Life LM&P operating unit. The unit is led by President Dave Paragamian, who formerly served as COO of GSW Worldwide in Columbus, Ohio. On the local level, Euro RSCG Life LM&P Chicago will be headed up by Skip Thurnauer, previously president and general manager of Torre Lazur McCann Healthcare Chicago, who has been promoted to the position of general manager; Larry Farkos, group vice-president, director of operations; and Rich Angelini, group vice-president, creative director. "This new structure combines the assets of an industry legend, LM&P, with the entrepreneurial spirit and cutting edge creative work of the Chicago team, making the agency particularly well-suited to work with emerging and smaller companies in need of a strong brand,î the company said.

Product launch and approvals news

AZ launches Symbicort maintenance and reliever therapy
AstraZeneca (AZ) has launched Symbicort (budesonide/formoterol) Maintenance And Reliever Therapy (Symbicort SMART) in the UK, which is the first treatment approach to allow asthma patients uncontrolled on inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) to receive both maintenance and reliever therapy in a single inhaler. Symbicort SMART offers patients a maintenance dose of their inhaler, while being able to top up with additional inhalations ëas neededí, if symptoms occur to provide rapid symptom relief and increased asthma control. Symbicort SMART combines budesonide, which is an Inhaled Corticosteroid (ICS), and formoterol, a rapid and long-acting bronchodilator (LABA) in one inhaler. According to clinical data, the rapid onset of action is due to formoterol, which has demonstrated a faster speed of onset than salmeterol. The Global INitiative for Asthma (GINA) Scientific Committee has incorporated Symbicort SMART into the updated version of their international treatment guidelines. The guidance states that a combination inhaler containing budesonide and formoterol used as both maintenance and rescue therapy can maintain a high level of asthma control, reducing exacerbations requiring oral steroids or hospitalisation. Symbicort achieved total sales of USD 585m H1 FY06 and represented a 24 per cent increase, compared with the same period in 2005.

French ATU granted for Thalidomide in elderly patients
Pharmion Corporation has revealed that the French regulatory authority has granted an Autorisation Temporaire d'Utilisation (ATU), or Temporary Authorisation for Use, for Thalidomide (thalidomide) for the treatment of untreated multiple myeloma. An ATU is the regulatory mechanism used by the French Health Products and Safety Agency to make non-approved drugs available to patients in France, when a genuine public health need exists. This ATU allows Pharmion to supply Thalidomide to elderly patients with untreated multiple myeloma on a cohort basis, and expands the ATU previously granted for Thalidomide for the treatment of relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma patients to include previously untreated multiple myeloma patients. The data review by the French agency was based on the three-arm IFM 99-06 study conducted by IFM that demonstrated the superiority of melphalan/prednisone plus Thalidomide (MPT) over standard therapy of melphalan/prednisone (MP) or a combination of chemotherapies (vincristine/adriamycin/dexamethasone, or VAD) followed by melphalan and transplantation (MEL 100) in the treatment of newly diagnosed elderly multiple myeloma patients.

People news

New MD head of BioPharma Investment Banking at Leerink Swann
Healthcare investment bank Leerink Swann announced the addition of Dr Jonathan P Gertler to its Investment Banking Group. Gertler will join the company on 13 June as managing director and head of BioPharma Investment Banking. He will be responsible for all investment banking activities related to the biotechnology and specialty pharmaceutical sectors. Gertler was most recently managing director in Healthcare Investment Banking at Cowen and Company. Prior to that, he served as head of Life Science Investment Banking at Adams Harkness & Hill, focusing on biotechnology and medical technology equity offerings, mergers and acquisitions and strategic advisory projects. He has been responsible for over USD 5bn in aggregate deal consideration throughout his banking career.

H&K hire
Hill & Knowlton has hired Claudine Moore as US director, business development and marketing, a New York-based position that reports directly to US Chairman Mary-Lee Sachs. Moore was most recently with G2, a sister firm to H&K as part of the WPP group. Her responsibilities there included corporate communications for G2 branding and design and G2 promotional marketing. Earlier in her career, she was the worldwide public relations and business development manager at McCann-Erickson. Moore has worked with clients including Avon and AstraZeneca. She moved to the US from the UK seven years ago and holds dual citizenship.

Pacific Communications hire
The healthcare communications firm Pacific Communications has hired Jennifer Fernandez to serve as programme manager II for the agencyís strategic communications division. Fernandez will oversee the agencyís Acular LS medical communications business, as well as other cross-functional programmes within the external disease group. She was previously an account director for Scienomics Group, where she managed strategic planning for clients and implemented promotional initiatives including speaker training, faculty development, and advisory boards.

7th June 2007

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