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Pharma news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news affecting the industry

Roche says yes to Tamiflu production in Far East

Roche has given the governments of Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia the go-ahead to manufacturer generic versions of its antiviral drug Tamiflu without paying any compensation to the Swiss company. After the three countries approached Roche expressing a desire to make Tamiflu, Roche replied that as the drug is not protected by patent in their countries, they do not need a special licence to produce it. A Roche spokesman said the company was ready to discuss the ìtechnical aspects of the manufacturing of Tamiflu with these countries in view of our expertise and experience in the manufacturing of this important medicineî. As fears of a possible avian flu pandemic grow, countries around the world have been stockpiling Tamiflu, regarded as the best line of defence against the disease.

Novartis cuts ties with dietary business

Novartis has emphasised its long-term commitment to its pharmaceutical business with the Ä220m sale of remaining assets in its dietary food business Nutrition & Sante to private equity group ABN AMRO Capital France. The deal, which has long been mooted after Novartis admitted the unit was no longer a core business, is on a cash and debt-free basis and is due to close in the first quarter of 2006. Nutrition & Sante makes a arrange of products sold through supermarkets, health food shops and gyms such as slimming products Gerlinea and Pesoforma and the Isostar sports drink. It reported sales of Ä245m and operating income of Ä21m for the year to the end of September.

CAT pretax loss narrows

UK biotechnology company Cambridge Antibody Technology (CAT) has benefited from settling a royalty dispute over arthritis drug Humira by posting a smaller annual loss. The company said it made a pretax loss of £530,000 ($911,200) in the year to September 30, compared with a loss of £38m the previous year. The dispute with US partner Abbott Laboratories was settled in October, guaranteeing it revenues from Humira, its sole marketed drug.

EU says yes to Teva-Ivax merger

European Union antitrust regulators have given the green light to Teva's proposed $7.3bn takeover of US firm Ivax, a deal which is widely expected to create the world's largest generic drug company. ìThe transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European economic area or any substantial part of it,î the European Commission said in a statement. The acquisition, announced in July, is likely to close either later this year or early 2006.

Schering and Philips link up

German firm Schering is to work with Dutch electronics group Philips to develop and market a new generation of machines and drugs for diagnosing illness. The first project will be to develop contrast agents and medical equipment in optical imaging to help detect and treat breast cancer. The plan is to combine Philips' optical screening device with Schering's new contrast medium. Under the terms of the deal, the companies have the option to expand the alliance to cover other imaging technologies and contrast agents, where synergies between the partners are expected, and they will also explore the field of molecular imaging.

30th September 2008

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