IHS Chemical Week


Pharma/fine chemicals roundup—11 June 2013

7:04 AM MDT | June 11, 2013 | By DEEPTI RAMESH

Johnson Matthey's fine chemicals division reports higher profits

Johnson Matthey's fine chemicals division posted a 2% hike in underlying operating profit for the fiscal year ended 31 March, to £71.1 million ($110 million), on sales down 2%, to £286 million. "After two years of strong growth, the performance of the fine chemicals division was impacted by increased competition in the UK regulated market in 2012–13," Johnson Matthey says. The division’s research chemicals business, which operates globally under the Alfa Aesar brand name, performed in line with last year with sales at £79 million, the company says.

The division’s active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturing business, which represents 71% of fine chemicals’ sales at £198 million, had a challenging year with sales 4% lower and underlying operating profit down by a similar amount, Johnson Matthey says. “During the year, higher levels of importation of controlled-substance products into the United Kingdom led to increased competition in our market. Despite this, we were able to maintain volumes at levels close to last year, but prices fell particularly for bulk opiates used in pain relief, such as codeine and dihydrocodeine,” Johnson Matthey says. “In response to this increased competition we undertook a review of our global API manufacturing and, as a consequence, have restructured the business to improve its efficiency. A charge of £14.2 million, which is excluded from the division’s underlying results, was made in the year to write off assets that will no longer be required following the consolidation of global manufacturing and to reduce staff numbers by 30 in the United Kingdom. This should result in cost savings of £5 million/year in the second half of 2013/14.”

The business saw continued growth in volumes for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder treatments and for opiate-based pain-relief products, the company says. Since the year end, customers have received the approval for the launch of a new generic drug that utilizes APIs manufactured by Johnson Matthey in the United Kingdom and is used to treat drug addiction; this development should help to boost sales further in 2013–14 and beyond, Johnson Matthey says.

Codexis appoints v.p./sales and marketing

Codexis (Redwood City, CA), a company that engineers enzymes for pharmaceutical, biofuel, and chemical production, appointed Scott Watson as v.p./sales and marketing in May. Watson has more than 25 years of experience in sales, marketing, and business development, including in the pharmaceutical and fine chemicals markets, Codexis says.

AMRI appoints board chairman

Albany Molecular Research Inc. (AMRI; Albany, NY) says its board of directors has unanimously voted to separate the role of chairman and CEO and named William Marth, an active member of the AMRI board, as chairman of the board, effective 5 June. The position of chairman has been held by Thomas D'Ambra since the company's founding. D'Ambra retains his roles as a member of the board, president, and CEO. Marth was appointed to the AMRI board in 2012.

AstraZeneca to acquire Pearl Therapeutics for $1.15 billion

AstraZeneca (London) says that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Pearl Therapeutics (Redwood City, CA), a privately held company focused on the development of inhaled small-molecule therapeutics for respiratory diseases, for a total potential acquisition cost of $1.15 billion. The proposed transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2013. The acquisition will give AstraZeneca access to a potential new treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, currently in late-stage development, and inhaler and formulation technology that provide a platform for future combination products.

Hovione appoints field experd to lead particle design in US

Hovione (Loures, Portugal) says that it has appointed Justin Hughey to lead the particle-design sciences business at its site in New Jersey.  Hughey is an acknowledged expert in the field of solubilization, including the creation of amorphous solid dispersions with an emphasis on hot melt extrusion, Hovione says. Hughey most recently served as the director of research at Enavail (Austin, TX).

“With his experience and deep scientific knowledge in developing traditional and nontraditional dosage forms with a strong emphasis on hot melt extrusion and other novel processing techniques, I believe [Hughey] will help speedily solve bioavailability challenges brought to us by our customers,” says Colin Minchom, v.p./particle design. Hovione offers integrated active pharmaceutical ingredient, particle design, formulation development, and GMP manufacturing.

EU, Russia sign agreement on the control of drug precursor chemicals

The European Union and Russia signed a new cooperation agreement on the control of drug precursors at the EU-Russia summit in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on 4 June, the European Commission has announced. Drug precursors are chemicals that are primarily used for the legitimate production of a wide range of products such as pharmaceuticals, perfumes, plastics, and cosmetics. However, they can be misused for the production of illicit drugs, such as methamphetamines, heroin, or cocaine.

Breckenridge Pharmaceutical signs development deal with Welding and SK Chemicals   

Breckenridge Pharmaceutical (Boca Raton, FL) says it has entered into a development agreement with Welding (Hamburg) and SK Chemicals (Songnam, South Korea) to develop and market an abbreviated new drug application with US-branded sales of about $500 million. Welding and SK, under the terms of this agreement, will develop and manufacture the product, utilizing SK's advanced drug delivery system, for Breckenridge, who will have exclusive marketing and distribution rights in the United States.

Takeda is the first pharma company in Japan to use bioPE bottles

Takeda Pharmaceutical (Osaka) says it will start using biopolyethylene (bioPE) bottles as the packaging container for the hypertension treatment product Azilva. The company is the first to use bioPE bottles as the primary packaging for pharmaceutical products in Japan, says James Morley, general manager/chemistry, manufacturing, and controls center at Takeda. A feasibility study into the use of bioPE bottles for other Takeda pharma products is ongoing, says Tetsuo Miwa, senior v.p./pharmaceutical production at Takeda.

Beyond IHS Chemical Week:

Manufacturing restarts at Teva API plant after deadly explosion
from in-PharmaTechnologist.com

Limited operations have recommenced at a Teva active pharmaceutical ingredient facility in Israel after a blast that killed 1 and injured over 30.

China set for key role in post-2015 global health agenda
from The Guardian

China is set to be a crucial player in global health as a new agenda to tackle poverty is discussed in the lead up to the 2015 deadline for the achievement of the country's Millennium Development Goals. The importance of China in the post-2015 agenda can be attributed to a number of factors, one of which is the country's rapid involvement with Africa.

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