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Pharma news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news affecting the industry

Bayer profits hit by charges
Bayer has seen its fourth-quarter net profit tumble by 33 per cent to Ä46m despite recording a healthy 16.1 per cent sales rise. Revenue was hit by exceptional charges relating to antitrust actions. Sales at its pharma unit rose 17 per cent to Ä9.43bn, boosted by its recent acquisition of Roche's consumer care business. Bayer's best selling product was diabetes drug, Ascensia with sales of Ä701m, up 12 per cent on the previous year. Aspirin sales rose 4.8 per cent to Ä630m and erectile dysfunction treatment, Levitra, had sales of Ä260m, up 34.7 per cent. The German firm said it expects 2006 group sales to rise to more than Ä28bn

Merck to cut HIV drug price
Merck is to slash the price of a key HIV drug for the developing world by 20 per cent. The US firm said it would reduce the price of the basic 600mg does of Stocrin (efavirenz) from 95 cents to 76 cents in the least developed countries, and by a similar amount to $1.91 in middle income countries with a high HIV prevalence. The drug is a reverse transcriptase inhibitor used as a first line treatment in the developing world.

Novartis and Infinity in cancer drug deal
US biotech firm, Infinity Pharmaceuticals, has signed a deal worth up to $400m with Novartis to develop cancer treatments. During the first two years of the collaboration, Infinity will receive $30m from the Swiss firm in upfront licensing fees, research funding and an equity investment. Total payments could reach $400m if Infinity meets certain milestones related to actual drug development and commercialisation. Julian Adams, chief scientific officer at Infinity, said the company aims to attack the cancer protein Bcl-2 by developing compounds that mirror certain molecules found in nature.

Amgen best pharma company to work at in poll
Three pharma and biotech firms, Amgen, Solvay and Cephalon, have been named in the top 100 best small companies to work for in a recent Sunday Times poll. The survey is compiled mainly from confidential responses from company employees to 70 questions about life in their organisation. ìThe Sunday Times survey shows that Amgen staff really believe in our values, feel they can make a valuable contribution to its success and are excited about its future,î said Amgen UK and Ireland human resources director, Gary Sagar. Amgen was ranked 41 while Solvay and Cephalon came in at 62 and 72 respectively in their category. In the mid-sized companies list, Boehringer Ingelheim was the sole pharma representative, with a placing of 40.

30th September 2008

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