AMRI mulls its offshore options
Faced with a continued decline in revenues, contract research provider Albany Molecular Research Inc. (AMRI) is stepping up its investigation of offshore chemistry options to compete with low-cost providers in countries like China and India. AMRI's contract research revenues for the second quarter were $12.4 million, a 23.5% decrease from the same period last year. The firm blames both a drop in pharmaceutical industry spending and offshore competition. CEO Thomas E. D'Ambra said in a conference call with financial analysts that the decline is in traditional drug discovery areas such as combinatorial, medicinal, and structure-activity relationship chemistry. He said AMRI wants to set up its own facility in an offshore location, rather than form a subcontracting relationship with another firm, as some of its U.S. competitors have done. His goal is to "bring our culture and capabilities to an offshore environment." Separately, D'Ambra noted that AMRI's Organichem division will add several niche generic active pharmaceutical ingredients to its product slate to help combat the downturn in bulk drug production outsourcing.
Following completion of its acquisition of Rhodia's North American specialty phosphates business last week, financial investor Bain Capital has launched the business under the name Innophos. The new firm's CEO will be Randy Gress, heading the same management team that oversaw the business under Rhodia; the company will be headquartered in Cranbury, N.J. "The transition has been virtually seamless, as the entire workforce and management team is in place," Gress says. Innophos has sales of nearly $500 million per year of specialty phosphates used in a variety of foods and beverages, consumer products, pharmaceuticals, and industrial applications. The sale to Bain marked the end of Rhodia's divestiture program, launched in October 2003. Sales of noncore businesses brought the French specialty chemical producer a total of roughly $1.09 billion this year. After fees and taxes, net proceeds will be about $950 million, substantially more than the company's goal of $875 million.
Mitsubishi Chemical has licensed its acrylic acid and acrylic ester technologies to China National Blue Star. Located in the northeast China city of Shenyang, Blue Star is planning to build an 80,000-metric-ton-per-year acrylic acid plant and a 120,000-metric-ton acrylic ester plant by 2006. Mitsubishi will buy from Blue Star's new plants to supply San-Dia Polymers, its superabsorbent polymer venture with Sanyo Chemical in Nantong, on China's central east coast.
Novartis plans to invest $180 million in a plant in Singapore that will produce bulk and finished pharmaceuticals. The facility, to employ 150, is scheduled to be fully operating in 2008. Earlier this summer, Novartis began activities at its tropical diseases research center in Singapore. Novartis' Ciba Vision unit is also building a contact lens plant in the city-state.
Sigma-Aldrich and Caliper Life Sciences are developing and comarketing a set of automated technologies for genomics, proteomics, and drug discovery applications. The systems are preoptimized protocols for Caliper's liquid-handling workstation using a number of Sigma-Aldrich's biochemicals and reagents. The first kits include one for purifying recombinant proteins and another that permits extraction and amplification of genomic DNA from blood and animal tissue. Separately, Sigma-Aldrich has named Jai Nagarkatti as its new president and chief operating officer. He previously headed the firm's scientific research unit. David R. Harvey will relinquish his role as president but remain chairman and CEO.
Information technology consulting firm Capgemini and business software giant SAP have formed a partnership under which they will develop a customized enterprise resource planning (ERP) system for medium-sized pharmaceutical and life sciences companies. FastPharma is a preconfigured ERP system that the companies claim is FDA-compliant and incorporates best practices from Capgemini's life sciences IT consulting work.
King Pharmaceuticals will work with Palatin Technologies to jointly develop Palatin's PT-141 for the treatment of male and female sexual dysfunction. The partners say PT-141, now in Phase II clinical trials, is the first compound in a new drug class called melanocortin receptor agonists. Unlike products such as Viagra, PT-141 doesn't act directly on the vascular system. King, which is being acquired by Mylan Laboratories (C&EN, Aug. 2, page 8), will pay Palatin $20 million upfront, up to $100 million for hitting certain development targets, and up to $130 million for hitting sales targets.
Akzo Nobel's Eka Chemicals unit is working with three-year-old Ecochlor to develop systems that treat ship ballast water. Ecochlor President Tom Perlich notes that the globalization of trade since the 1970s has led to a dramatic rise in ballast water use and discharge, in turn resulting in the unwanted transfer of invasive aquatic species from one region to another. The two firms plan to combine Eka technology for generating chlorine dioxide with Ecochlor technology for using the disinfecting chemical in ballast water treatment. Ecochlor notes that international standards requiring the treatment of ballast water are currently being adopted. A number of U.S. states have also passed, or are in the process of passing, laws mandating ballast water treatment, the firm adds.
Information technology services firm Computer Sciences Corp. has purchased Porton International's interest in DynPort Vaccine Co., a joint venture focused on vaccines used in biodefense, for an undisclosed sum. DynPort is developing vaccines for Clostridium botulinum neurotoxin, tularemia, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, anthrax, and plague. It's also developing a therapeutic blood product, vaccinia immune globulin, to treat complications from smallpox vaccination. Much of DynPort's business is with the Department of Defense. CSC acquired its initial interest in DynPort when it purchased IT services firm DynCorp in 2003. DynCorp worked primarily under contract with the federal government in IT-related services.
U.S. chemical production in July posted another increase, according to seasonally adjusted data from the Federal Reserve Board. Output of all chemicals rose 0.5% from June to an index of 111.4 (1997 = 100). The July index was up 6.6% from the same month a year ago. Production of basic chemicals increased 1.5% between June and July to an index of 101.2, and July's index was 5.6% ahead of the same month in 2003. The government's estimate of capacity utilization for all chemicals in July was 76.1%, up from 75.8% for June and from 72.4% in July of last year.
Pharmaceutical producer Boehringer Ingelheim has begun a new program with Munich-based biotech firm MorphoSys to develop a therapeutic antibody for use in cardiovascular disease treatment. MorphoSys will generate the antibody using its proprietary HuCAL Gold technology; it will receive milestone payments and royalties from any successful testing and marketing. The deal builds on an agreement the two German companies originally made in February 2003.
Dainippon Printing will invest $270 million in the construction of a sixth-generation liquid-crystal display (LCD) glass filter plant. The facility, due to open next spring, will be located on disused space at a Mitsubishi Chemical site in Kurosaki, southern Japan. A sixth-generation LCD glass filter plant puts color filters on sheets of specialty glass measuring 71 by 59 inches. The glass can be cut to yield four 40-sq-inch LCD substrates or eight 30-sq-inch substrates. The LCD industry demands larger substrates as screen sizes keep increasing. Dainippon Printing already operates fourth- and fifth-generation glass filter plants in Japan and Taiwan.
Amgen has finalized its acquisition of Tularik for what a recent Securities & Exchange Commission filing by Amgen said was a purchase price of about $1.5 billion. The Tularik clinical candidates that pass on to Amgen are T67, an anticancer agent that has been in Phase I and II trials; T487, a small molecule targeting inflammatory conditions; T131 for type 2 diabetes; and T71 for obesity treatment. In another completed deal, after recently receiving Federal Trade Commission clearance, Cephalon has finished acquiring Cima Labs. For the rest of this year, Cephalon expects additional sales of about $15 million and other revenue of about $10 million. The company plans to expand its presence in the pain care market as it adds Cima's drug OraVescent fentanyl, currently in Phase III clinical trials for treatment of cancer pain. The drug uses enhanced absorption transmucosal delivery developed by Cima.
The venture-capital arms of GlaxoSmithKline and Eastman Chemical are among the firms that have put $17 million into a second round of financing for CyDex. Based in Lenexa, Kan., CyDex is developing Captisol, a cyclodextrin-based technology for improved drug delivery. The company recently formed a venture with fine chemicals maker Hovione to develop Captisol-enabled versions of six generic drugs (C&EN, June 21, page 10).
Borden Chemical, which was just acquired by Apollo Management, has opened a 55,000-metric-ton-per-year formaldehyde resin plant in Heyuan, China, with its Chinese partner Asia Dekor Group.
Indian Oil Corp. has completed a 120,000-metric-ton-per-year linear alkylbenzene plant in Baroda, Gujarat, India. The plant, costing $271 million, uses UOP's Detal process for alkylation of benzene and normal olefins.
Symyx and UOP have signed a cross-licensing agreement for high-throughput screening methods and equipment. Under the agreement, UOP will pay Symyx licensing fees and Symyx will pay UOP fees when it sells equipment covered under UOP patents.
Chiral Quest has changed its name to VioQuest Pharmaceuticals. VioQuest will have two subsidiaries: chiral catalysis provider Chiral Quest and a new drug business called VioQuest Drug Development.
Monsanto says it has received written notification that the Justice Department has concluded its investigation into possible anticompetitive behavior in the glyphosate-based herbicide industry. The department requires no actions by Monsanto.
Reliance Industries has completed the acquisition of specialty polyester manufacturer Trevira. Spun off from Hoechst in 1998, Trevira has annual sales of about $360 million, making it one of Europe's leading polyester companies.