The Andhra Journal of Industrial News
(An International Electronic Digest Published from the United States of America)
(dedicated to Andhra, My Mother's Homeland)

Chief Editor: Prof. Sreenivasarao Vepachedu
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Issue 56

5110 Kali Era, Sarvadhari Year, Karthika month
2066 Vikramarka Era, Sarvadhari Year, Karthika month
1930 Salivahana Era
Sarvadhari Year, Karthika month
 2008 AD, November





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Biotech Bust
The global economic crisis has cut funding for biotechnology companies to the lowest level in a decade, triggering bankruptcies and threatening development of drugs based on biomedical breakthroughs. In the past month, at least five biotechnology businesses have sought bankruptcy protection, according to company news releases, and others may be heading toward a similar fate. Those at highest risk have experimental compounds moving into costly human research.  The amount raised this year by biotechnology companies fell by $9.7 billion through September, or 54 percent, compared with the same period in 2007, according to Burrill & Co., a life sciences investment bank in San Francisco. That may mean work on dozens of potential treatments will stall or die as companies fire workers and shelve early research projects, industry executives and investors said. Biotechnology companies in the U.S. are raising less cash than they have in a decade, according to Burrill, which tracks investment in the life-sciences industry. Financing fell to $8.2 billion through September, from $17.9 billion last year. Venture capital funding fell 16 percent, to $2.9 billion.  The financial crisis has also opened up some interesting opportunities for large pharmaceutical companies to gain access to promising drugs from the biotech industry.

Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry
The medical device and diagnostics industry is expected to grow an annual 9% from the $240 billion, worldwide business it was in 2007, Science states. Last year's investments were enough to create 2,000 new jobs, although these positions may have career trade-offs.   Abbott Labs, Zimmer and Johnson & Johnson are some of the top industry companies in the United States.  Johnson & Johnson's device and diagnostics sales, alone, accounted for 35% of company totals in 2007. Its business plans include driving additional results through areas such as orthopedics, devices for cardiac care and technology to battle obesity. Increases are also seen in international companies such as Agappe Diagnostics Ltd., which forecasted 300% growth this year. The Indian company reported 100% growth last year.
"Growth in the healthcare market, including the medical device and diagnostics sectors, is expected to outpace GDP growth in the emerging markets, due both to an expansion of personal income and rising prices as well as increased adoption of advanced medical technologies and aging of the population," Biomedical Business & Technology reported this year.  The industry magazine noted populations 65 and older will increase by 300% to 575% in China, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam by 2050. The same group could increase by 147% in the United States.  "The increasing demand for healthcare services, coupled with growth in personal income, will drive strong expansion in the healthcare markets in Asia, as well as in the Middle East, creating ongoing opportunities for exports by medical device companies in the U.S. and Western Europe," Biomedical Business & Technology states.

Dupont Opens in Hyderabad
DuPont opened the DuPont Knowledge Center (DKC) November 21, 17 months after breaking ground last summer. Located on 15 acres in the ICICI Knowledge Park in the city’s Genome Valley, the center will be a research hub for India and the Asia Pacific region in the areas of agricultural and industrial biotechnology as well as engineering design and will grow to serve a broad range of DuPont businesses.  The center will include a biotechnology center, materials research center and global engineering design center, making it the first integrated knowledge center outside the United States. DKC brings together basic research, applications development, engineering design, bioinformatics and patent services to serve the Asia Pacific region, a key growth market for the company. DuPont 2007 net sales in Asia Pacific were $5.18 billion. With 25 percent average annual growth rates, India is an emerging growth market for DuPont.

Novartis to Move 100 to Hyderabad
At a time when global pharmaceutical companies such as Merck and Pfizer are trimming their workforce to beat the economic blues, Novartis, the Swiss pharmaceutical major, has decided to shift 100 jobs to India.  The company plans to make Hyderabad as its back office hub for data management in clinical research and financial service segments. Though Novartis’ global recruitments shows no increase in numbers, its Hyderabad office will see an addition of at least 100 people in the coming months, said Jurgen Brokatzky-Geiger, head (human resources), Novartis.  Speaking to Business Standard, Geiger said the cut in the workforce in the pharmaceutical companies have more to do with the business realities than with the current global crisis. Even Novartis had announced a cut of about 3,000 jobs last year, though the company has not made any similar move this year.  On the outsourcing plans of Novartis in India, Geiger said the Hyderabad office, started two years ago, will turn out to be the sourcing hub for several operations of Novartis.

Novartis had initially planned to turn its Hyderabad centre as an R&D hub.  The plan for the facility was announced in 2006 after Novartis signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Andhra Pradesh government for allotment of land near Hyderabad.  However, the project did not take off. The company had blamed Indian position on intellectual property rights protection as a reason for going slow on its R&D plans.  Novartis has two domestic subsidiaries, of which Novartis India is listed on Indian stock exchanges.

Gardasil for Men
For the first time, an expensive vaccine aimed at preventing cervical cancer in women has proven successful at preventing a disease in men, according to a study released by the vaccine's maker. The disease is sexually transmitted genital warts, embarrassing and uncomfortable, but not life-threatening.  Still, the results are expected to bolster a likely bid by the vaccine's manufacturer, Merck & Co. Inc., to begin marketing the vaccine to boys, experts said. Merck plans to ask the government for that approval later this year.

In 2006, the U.S. government licensed the vaccine for use in girls and women ages 9 to 26. Males can spread the virus, but the vaccine was not licensed for them because there was no evidence it prevented disease in men. Though about 40 other countries have approved the vaccine for males, there still is no medical proof Gardasil prevents penile cancer or other HPV-associated cancers in men. There also is no evidence it prevents men from spreading HPV to women.

AIDS Vaccine Design and Development Laboratory
The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) opened an AIDS Vaccine Design and Development Laboratory in New York City, the only facility in the world exclusively devoted to the development of an AIDS vaccine. IAVI will be the first occupant of a biotechnology park that the City of New York is creating in the landmark Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

Narcotic/Controlled Substances
Sun Pharmaceuticals acquired 100 percent of U.S.-based Chattem Chemicals Inc which operates a manufacturing facility at Tennessee, manufacturing active pharmaceutical ingredients, with a focus on controlled substances. Its sales for the year ended June are estimated at $26 million. In 2005, Sun acquired a manufacturing facility in Hungary to make controlled substance for pharmaceutical use and another in New Jersey to make controlled substances finished dosages. The controlled substance formulation product market is estimated at $6 billion, Sun said.

The FDA will review Takeda’s  new drug application for febuxostat and make its approval decision. Febuxostat is a potent non-purine, selective inhibitor of xanthine oxidase, which was studied for its ability to lower levels of serum uric acid in patients with hyperuricemia associated with gout. Hyperuricemia, elevated uric acid levels in the body, is associated with gout, a painful type of arthritis. Uric acid is an end-product created when the body breaks down naturally occurring substances called purines. Hyperuricemia occurs when this process results in elevated uric acid levels, either through overproduction or underexcretion of uric acid or a combination of the two. Hyperuricemia is a precursor to gout; the higher a person's urate level, the greater the risk for developing gout.

Gout is the most common inflammatory arthritis in men over age 40. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III 1988-1994, an estimated 5.1 million Americans suffer from gout. It is a chronic condition characterized by attacks, or "flares," marked by intense pain, redness, swelling, and heat in the affected joint. These symptoms are the result of an acute inflammatory response to the presence of crystallized uric acid in the joint(s). As the disease progresses, these attacks may become more frequent and patients may develop large deposits of crystallized uric acid visible under the skin, known as tophi, that can eventually lead to complications including pain, soft tissue damage and deformity, as well as joint destruction and nerve compression syndromes such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Roche Acquires Memory
Roche and Memory Pharmaceuticals announced that the two companies have signed a definitive merger agreement for Roche to acquire all the outstanding shares of Memory Pharmaceuticals in an all-cash transaction for an aggregate price of approximately USD 50 million.  Memory Pharmaceuticals develops innovative drug candidates for the treatment of debilitating central nervous system (CNS) disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia. Memory Pharmaceuticals' nicotinic alpha-7 agonist drug candidates in these disease areas are already in partnered programmes with Roche: R3487/MEM 3454 is in phase II clinical trials for Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia; R4996/MEM 63908 is in phase I for Alzheimer's disease.

King and Alpharm Merge
King Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Alpharma Inc. announced that the two companies have signed a definitive merger agreement under which King will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Class A Common Stock of Alpharma for $37.00 per share in cash for a total equity value of approximately $1.6 billion. The Boards of Directors of both companies have unanimously approved the transaction.

J&J Acquires Omrix
Johnson & Johnson and Omrix Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. a fully integrated biopharmaceutical company that develops and markets biosurgical and immunotherapy products, today announced a definitive agreement whereby Omrix will be acquired for approximately $438 million in a cash tender offer. Omrix is expected to operate as a stand-alone entity reporting through ETHICON, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company and leading provider of suture, mesh, hemostats and other products for a wide range of surgical procedures.

Affymetrix acquires Panomics
Affymetrix Inc. announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Panomics Inc., a privately held Fremont, Calif.-based company that offers a powerful suite of assay products for a wide variety of low to mid-plex genetic, protein and cellular analysis applications.  After inventing microarray technology in the late 1980s, Affymetrix scientists have been developing products that provide researchers with a more complete view of the genome.

Source: The primary sources cited above,  BBC News, New York Times (NYT), Washington Post (WP), Mercury News,, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Intellihealthnews, Deccan Chronicle (DC), the Hindu, Hindustan Times, Times of India, AP, Reuters, AFP,  Biospace etc.

Notice: The content of the articles is intended to provide general information. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Copyright ©1998-2008
Vepachedu Educational Foundation, Inc
Copyright Vepachedu Educational Foundation Inc., 2008.  All rights reserved.  All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for special medical conditions or any specific health issues or starting a new fitness regimen. Please read disclaimer.

Om! Asatoma Sadgamaya, Tamasoma Jyotirgamaya, Mrityorma Amritamgamaya, Om Shantih, Shantih, Shantih!
(Om! Lead the world from wrong path to the right path, from ignorance to knowledge, from mortality to immortality and peace!)
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