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Pharma news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news affecting the industry

Novartis gets EU approval for Chiron buy-out
Novartis has been given the go-ahead to buy the 58 per cent of US vaccine maker Chiron that it does not already control for $5.1bn. European Union antitrust regulators said they found ìlittle or no overlap exists between Novartis' and Chiron's product rangesî, adding that there was little potential competition overlaps between the two companies, who hope to close the deal in the first half of 2006.

Akzo to spin off pharma unit
Dutch chemicals and drug group, Akzo Nobel has announced it plans to spin off its pharmaceutical business after full year net profits for 2005 rose to Ä961m ($1.15bn) from Ä945m last year. ìAfter a thorough strategic review, we believe that creating two independent companies, coatings/chemicals and pharmaceuticals, will enhance shareholder value through both increased management and strategic focus and greater transparency,î said Akzo chief executive Hans Wijers. Shares in the company rose 7.6 per cent in early trading after the news.

Serono cools takeover speculation
Serono has poured a measure of cold water over market rumours it is about to be bought up by a big pharma company. GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and Pfizer have all been tipped as interested parties, although none is believed to have submitted a binding offer. ìThe process is ongoing. However, there is no assurance that any transaction will be consummated,î said Serono in a statement. Shares in the Swiss biotech firm rose late last year after it hired investment bank, Goldman Sachs, to pursue ìstrategic alternatives', which usually means a sale.

Federal Vioxx retrial underway
The retrial of the first federal case over Merck's withdrawn painkiller Vioxx has got underway in the US District Court of the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans. For the second time, plaintiff lawyers for Evelyn Irvin Plunkett are attempting to prove that Vioxx caused the fatal heart attack of her husband, Richard Irvin. The case was moved to Houston last December following Hurricane Katrina and ended in a mistrial after the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision.

30th September 2008


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