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 67

5111 Kali Era, Virodhi Year, Aswayuja month
2067 Vikramarka Era, Virodhi Year, Aswayuja month
1931 Salivahana Era
Virodhi Year, Aswayuja month
 2009 AD, October





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Job Cuts
The federal government greenlighted the Pfizer-Wyeth deal making way for layoffs. Pfizer has said it would cut about 15% of the companies’ combined workforce. Pfizer Inc. will close Wyeth operations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and decide what research sites to shut in the next 30 to 60 days.  The company said the cuts would “span sales, manufacturing, research and development, and administrative organizations.”  But the full picture of who will be hit with post-merger layoffs remains unclear. Pfizer Inc awarded two top executives cash and stock bonuses for their roles in carrying through the recently completed $67.3 billion deal for U.S. rival Wyeth, the company said.  Chief Financial Officer Frank D'Amelio will receive a $1.2 million award and Ian Read, group president of Pfizer's biopharmaceutical business, will receive $1 million, the drugmaker said in a U.S. securities filing. The compensation committee of the board of directors "determined that these executives, in addition to carrying out their normal, ongoing responsibilities, devoted extraordinary efforts and made extraordinary contributions in addressing critical components of the transaction," Pfizer said.  The purchase of Wyeth is designed to help the world's largest drugmaker soften the blow from losing U.S. patent protection for Lipitor, the $11 billion-a-year cholesterol medicine, by moving into areas such as vaccines and biotech medicines, and by cutting ~ 20,000 jobs.
Mountain View-based 23andMe has been funded by Genentech Inc. and Menlo Park-based New Enterprise Associates. Genentech was acquired earlier this year by Roche Holding Ltd resulting in layoffs. Personal genomics company 23andMe Inc. has reportedly let go of a number of workers as well.

Swiss drugs industry supplier Lonza Group Ltd said that it would cut about 5 percent of its workforce after order cancellations and postponements forced it to lower earnings targets, slamming its shares.

SciClone Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced a corporate restructuring that will reduce its U.S.-based workforce by approximately 17%, primarily in research and development. This restructuring follows the discontinuation of SciClone's RP101 phase 2 clinical trial announced on October 2, 2009.
Caraco Pharmaceutical Laboratories, Ltd.  lays off of approximately 430 employees.  

New York-based Bristol-Myers Squibb has unveiled plans to reduce its work force in southwest Indiana. In a letter to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, the pharmaceutical maker says it will close its facility in Evansville. BMS already cut the sales force for its second-best-selling drug, the antipsychotic Abilify, as Japanese partner Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. took over more of the marketing of the medicine.

The pharma sales rep bloodbath continues. Bristol-Myers Squibb has axed one-fourth of the sales force for its antipsychotic drug Abilify. The company won't specify exactly how many jobs were cut. Despite the widespread layoffs in pharma sales, this move was somewhat unexpected because BMS had just inked a deal to extend its marketing contract...

Wall Street says 500 Axed AstraZeneca Reps Are Worth Only 5 Cents.  Analysts said AstraZeneca could add 5 cents in earnings per share for every 500 pharmaceutical sales reps that it fires.

The bloodletting in Atlanta’s pharma industry continues. Stiefel Laboratories Inc. said it will shutter its 200-plus employee Duluth operations and move the work to Research Triangle Park, N.C., months after being acquired by United Kingdom-based GlaxoSmithKline Plc.

Are you sick of seeing headlines about layoffs at virtually every major pharma company, due to federal government approved mergers and takeovers, and loss of patent protection? If you’re willing to live in Japan, speak Japanese and work as a rep, the future is yours.  In a recent note to investors, Wall Street analysts Jefferies & Co. discussed prospects for InVentiv Health, a pharma marketing agency that supplies contract sales reps to drug companies. InVentiv and Jefferies believe Japan offers a virtual Shangri-La for drug reps: The country is the second-largest market in the world, it has lower than average numbers of reps, and its patent cliff doesn’t hit for another seven years. It is literally the U.S. in the 1990s.  There are similar opportunities in China. Go East.

Biotech Salaries
The biotech industry enjoys a lot of political clout in Washington D.C. and state capitals largely because it attracts highly educated people into high-paying jobs. Data suggests biotech workers aren’t really taking home nearly as much money as some of the industry’s lobbyists and political allies would like people to believe. The median salary for biotech jobs in the Pacific Northwest was $60,520 in 2008, according to data collected by Phil Ness, the owner of Seattle-based Info.Resource, a company that operates websites for biotech associations in all 50 states. That’s nowhere near the $81,499 average annual salary figure for Washington state biotech workers that was touted earlier this spring by a group sponsored by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

Lilly Opens New Biotech Center
As part of its strategy to discover and develop more biotechnology medicines, Eli Lilly and Company officially opened a new state-of-the-art biotechnology center on the West Coast. The facility, known as the "Lilly Biotechnology Center - San Diego," is opening three months after Lilly announced it is moving its ImClone research headquarters (which specializes in developing cancer biologics) into a new biopharmaceutical research cluster in New York, and just one year after Lilly completed construction of its biotechnology research and development complex at company headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Of the nearly 200 scientists based at the center, more than half are from Applied Molecular Evolution (AME). Work at the new biotechnology center is mostly focused on discovering, engineering and conducting Phase I and II clinical trials on potential biologic medicines, with an emphasis on cancer, diabetes and autoimmune diseases, areas of medicine that hold potential promise for biologic drug development.

Konark Knowledge Park
Bharat Biotech International (BBI) has inked a pact with the government of Orissa to set up the ‘Konark Knowledge Park’ at a cost of Rs 100 crore. This is the first public-private partnership (PPP) project conceived under a development alliance between the company and a state government. The project aims to boost investments in the areas of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals in Orissa. Work at the 100 crore Konark Knowledge Park at Mouza-Andharua near the state capital here began. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik presided over the function and planted a sapling and unveiled details of the park named as Konark Knowledge Park. The project aims to boost investments in the areas of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals in the state of Orissa. When completed, this infrastructure will create world-class, state-of-the-art research and development enterprises in an exceptional environment designed to foster novel approaches to healthcare and its delivery.  The state government has allocated 64.86 acres of land (30 acres in Phase I and 24.86 acres in phase II) including 10 acres of land for development of Biotech Incubation Centre through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for development of an integrated industrial park to attract and promote biotechnology, pharmaceutical and information technology industries here. The land for park has been allocated in the form of a long term lease to the SPV named Konark Knowledge Park Pvt. Ltd.  BBI has successfully developed an integrated Agri-Biotech Park in Bangalore and establishment of Genome Valley BioPharmaceutical cluster located in the outskirts of Hyderabad

Pfizer Alliance with Indian Companies
Pfizer has approached Cadila Healthcare Emcure, Intas Pharma and Mankind Pharma for possible alliances to bolster its revenues, but the Indian companies have not responded favorably to the offers, according to an unidentified senior industry executive with direct knowledge of the matter.  Some of Pfizer's popular products are set to go off-patent in the next three years, exposing it to competition from cheaper copycat versions.

Abbott Nutrition Facility at Research Park at the University of Illinois
Abbott, a global health care company started its new Abbott Nutrition facility at the Research Park on the University of Illinois campus. Abbott will use the facility to research and develop nutritional products for infants through adults. The company, which operates more than 100 facilities worldwide and sells products in more than 130 countries, will initially collaborate with faculty and students in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. The company is beginning with 11 student interns and full time management.  Abbott has a long history of collaboration with the University of Illinois in the sciences, in engineering, in business and in nutrition. Nearly 1,000 Illinois graduates currently work for Abbott. The Research Park at the University of Illinois is now home to 73 companies including 8 Fortune 500 companies. The Research Park is attracting companies that are seeking to engage with the University in an open innovation model, collaborating with faculty, and employing students year-round to supplement their R&D operations. The Research Park has continued to attract new operations despite tough economic conditions. New companies in 2009 include: Abbott, Littelfuse, Pearson, Waterborne, Wolfram Alpha and several technology startup companies.

Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories
Global demand for generic drugs from companies such as Dr Reddy's and domestic rivals Ranbaxy Laboratories and Cipla Ltd is booming as nations around the world battle rising healthcare costs. Dr Reddy's plans to launch six to seven new generics in the U.S. in fiscal 2009/10 including blockbuster omeprazole, a generic version of AstraZeneca's Prilosec for treating stomach ulcers and acid reflux. Last year, the New York-listed company launched acute migraine drug sumatriptan, a generic of GlaxoSmithKline's Imitrex, in the U.S. market.

Merck Acquires Indian Company
Merck KGaA announced today the acquisition of Bangalore Genei (India) Private Ltd. (BGIP) by its wholly owned subsidiary in India, Merck Specialities Private Ltd., from the Sanmar Group. By combining BGIP's activities with Merck's existing bioscience business, Merck will become one of the leading bioscience companies in India.  BGIP is located in Bangalore and specializes in the development, production, marketing and sales of products for proteomic and genomic research. With more than 100 employees, the company generated total revenues of INR 202m (€ 3.0 million) in fiscal year 2008/09.  Christina Shasserre, Global Head of Merck's bioscience business, commented: "BGIP’s leadership in the Indian academic market, a segment with high growth potential, will ideally complement our existing customer base. BGIP’s product portfolio comprises a wide range of bioscience products, which are tailored to the needs of the domestic market in India."

The European Union has approved Novartis AG's Ilaris to treat children and adults with a rare but potentially fatal inflammatory disease, the Swiss drugmaker said on Wednesday. Novartis said in a statement the accelerated EU decision follows approvals in the United States and Switzerland. It said Ilaris is the only approved treatment in the EU for patients who suffer from two forms of cryopyrin-associated periodic syndrome (CAPS), whose symptoms can include debilitating fatigue, rash, fever, headaches, joint pain and conjunctivitis.

GSK-3 Inhibitors

L803-MTS is based on the physical structure of the GSK3 protein, which plays a causative role in insulin resistance and Type II diabetes. Working with chemists, biotechnologists and 3-D modelists, Prof. Eldar-Finkelman and her colleagues built, like engineers constructing a building,  a drug that locks onto the GSK3 protein, rendering it harmless and unable to wreak havoc inside the body. Recent research findings on the L803-MTS drug have been published in the Journal of Molecular Biology (2008) and Current Pharmaceutical Design (2009, currently in press).  Since Prof. Eldar-Finkelman linked GSK3 to insulin resistance in diabetes more than ten years ago, a race has been on among drug manufacturers to find a drug that can potentially turn off the harmful effects of GSK3. But rather than build on existing drugs, Prof. Eldar-Finkelman and her colleagues worked from the ground up. Pre-clinical results have been positive, and the new drug does not exhibit dangerous toxic side effects, a problem with existing formulations. While L803-MTS cannot reverse the onset of a CNS disease once it has started, Prof. Eldar-Finkelman believes it can slow down the devastating effects of CNS diseases, like impaired memory and depression, or insulin-resistance.

Hatch-Waxman Act of 1984 Destroys Pharmaceutical Industry in America
The development of new and innovative pharmaceuticals is being stifled by a U.S. law and successful patent challenges that embolden generic competition, according to an article published in this week's issue of the journal Science.  Matthew Higgins and Stuart Graham, assistant professors in the College of Management at the Georgia Institute of Technology, argue in their article that the recent surge in Paragraph IV patent challenges -- a provision of the Hatch-Waxman Act of 1984 -- is decreasing the incentives for pharmaceutical innovation and contributing to productivity and revenue declines in the pharmaceutical industry. While Congress passed the Hatch-Waxman Act to ensure timely, affordable access to innovative drugs, 25 years later its balance between pharmaceutical innovation and access is tipping away from the incentives needed to support innovation, the researchers said.

A contributor to this shift is the recent surge in Paragraph IV challenges, which allow manufacturers of generic drugs to challenge a brand company's patents by claiming that either the patent is invalid or the generic drug does not infringe the patent. If the generic company wins the challenge, the brand company loses its remaining market exclusivity for that product. Federal Trade Commission statistics show that generic firms won 42 percent of the Paragraph IV challenges filed from 1992 to 2000. Since 2001, pharmaceutical companies have filed 749 lawsuits responding to Paragraph IV challenges on 243 unique brand-name products. These suits nearly tripled from 2002-2003 and doubled from 2006-2007.
"A Paragraph IV lawsuit will likely cost a generic manufacturer $5 to $10 million, compared to at least $800 million required for a brand company to develop a drug and bring it to market," said Graham, who is also a licensed attorney. "And the reward for being the first successful Paragraph IV challenger is substantial -- 180 days during which no other generic-producing company may enter the market and an average potential payoff during those 180 days alone of $60 million. The law is creating incentives to bring challenges on more and different types of drugs."

Up to a third of children and adolescents who took common antipsychotic drugs for the first time became overweight or obese in as little as 11 weeks, raising their risk for diabetes and heart disease, U.S. researchers said. They said doctors who prescribe antipsychotics to children should carefully consider the benefits against the risks, and keep close watch on children taking the drugs.

More than half the people who take antidepressants for depression never get relief. Why? Because the cause of depression has been oversimplified and drugs designed to treat it aim at the wrong target, according to new research from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Researchers in the USA have discovered a potential new function for anti-epileptic drugs in treating neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. The study, published in BioMed Central's open access journal Molecular Neurodegeneration, found that neurons in the brain were protected after treatment with T-type calcium-channel blockers, which are commonly used to treat epilepsy.  Calcium signaling pathways play a vital role in the survival of neurons in the brain. As age increases, calcium homeostasis can be disrupted in the brain, which may lead to cognitive and functional decline. It therefore raises the possibility that chemicals able to modulate calcium homeostasis could protect neurons.

Source: The primary sources cited above,  BBC News, New York Times (NYT), Washington Post (WP), Mercury News,, Chicago Tribune, CNN, 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 ©1998-2009
Vepachedu Educational Foundation, Inc
Copyright Vepachedu Educational Foundation Inc., 2009.  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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