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Pharma news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news affecting the industry

Bayer bid slightly higher
Bayer has officially launched a takeover of Schering, which values the rival German drug firm at Ä16.5bn ($20.1bn), higher than the Ä16.3bn figure it suggested last month. Bayer said the increase was mainly due to the fact that Schering had issued shares linked to the fulfilment of employee stock options and was likely to carry on doing so during the offer period. Bayer's friendly ìwhite knightî bid, worth Ä86 a share in cash, trumped a hostile Ä14.9bn offer from Merck KGaA. The offer is open until May 31, although Bayer said an extension period could run from June 9 to June 22 if the minimum acceptance threshold of 75 per cent has been met by then.

GSK buys cancer drug rights
GlaxoSmithKline has obtained exclusive worldwide rights to manufacture, develop and market an experimental cancer treatment from Japanese firm, Japan Tobacco (JT). The drug is an MEK inhibitor, which works by blocking an enzyme that is involved in cancer cell proliferation. JT will have the right to jointly promote the product in Japan and will receive an upfront payment as well as potential milestone payments and royalties.

PM Society Question Time 2006
The Pharmaceutical Marketing Society's Pharmaceutical Question Time at the Reform Club, Pall Mall on Tuesday, 25 April will consider the full impact of nationally set targets on the nation's health as a whole. Chaired by health policy analyst and broadcaster, Roy Lilley, a panel of speakers will debate topics such as whether the government is taking well-informed decisions that are resulting in better overall management of the population's health and whether certain sections of the population are benefiting from targets at the expense of the broader general population. For further details, go to

Opinion on repackaging published
An opinion by the European Advocate-General has concluded that de-branding or co-branding of medicines is not necessarily harmful to the reputation of the trademark owner, a decision which could pave the way for parallel importers to re-box more medicines. The decision is linked to a complaint by Boehringer Ingelheim and GlaxoSmithKline about specific repackaging styles adopted by parallel distributors Medihealth and Dowelhurst. The parallel trade association, the British Association of European Pharmaceutical Distributors welcomed the opinion, saying that if upheld by the European Court of Justice, it will ìclarify the rules on repackaging of medicinesî.

BioProgress unperturbed by widening losses
BioProgress, the speciality pharmaceuticals company, has had annual pre-tax losses widen from £7.13m to £8.67m, despite increasing its turnover by almost £2m to £4.43m. Trading conditions, growing costs and difficulties with new partnerships have been blamed for the growing losses in the year to December 31. Chief executive, Richard Trevillion, shrugged off the setback, saying that BioProgress was ìalready enjoying strong organic growth in all business areas and the outlook for the remainder of the year is extremely positive.î

Roche makes lung filing for Avastin
Avastin has been put forward for regulatory approval for advanced lung cancer, in the US. The injectable drug discovered by Genentech and marketed by Roche, is already on sale in 77 countries for its initial indication, advanced colorectal cancer. A third indication for advanced breast cancer is expected soon. Trials are also underway to assess its potential in fighting cancers of the kidney, prostate, pancreas and ovaries, as well as post-operative, early phase cancers. Ed Holdener, head of pharmaceuticals development at Roche, said: ìThe filing of Avastin in the US is a crucial step forward.î

Novartis continues the vaccine revival
Novartis looks set to complete its acquisition of the biotechnology and vaccines company, Chiron Corp, for $5.4bn. Novartis' move demonstrates further the industry's changing perception towards vaccine production. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Sanofi-Aventis SA are also investing heavily - GSK offered $1.4bn to acquire the Canadian flu-vaccine maker, ID Biomedical Corp, while Sanofi is boosting US and French flu production. Beyond flu, GSK and Merck & Co are racing to be first to market with a cervical cancer vaccine. GSK predicts that the global market for vaccines will quadruple to £24bn by 2015.

30th September 2008


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