Life Science Weekly inSite (Sep. 29 - Oct. 3)

Published: Oct 06, 2008

Life Science Weekly inSite (Sep. 29 - Oct. 3)
A weekly round-up of biotech's top stories from around the world
By Suvarna Bhatt, Feature Editor

SAN FRANCISCO – Imclone Systems created a huge buzz when it announced on Monday that it was being courted by a mystery suitor. The biotechnology company said it will find out by the end of Wednesday whether a big pharmaceuticals company will make an offer to buy the company. The name of the mystery suitor will be revealed at that time. Chairman of Imclone’s board, Carl Icahan said Imclone’s partner, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company's offer to buy the company for $62 a share was inadequate. The second largest newsmaker on Monday was Covance Inc. and WuXi Pharmatech. The companies announced they will call off plans to build an alliance for preclinical contract research services in China. The companies didn’t offer an explanation for their decision.

The top news on Tuesday was Pfizer’s announcement that it will end drug development for heart disease, obesity, and bone in an effort to focus its energy on five other areas, which include Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, inflammation/immunology, oncology, pain and schizophrenia. The news was released through an internal company memo. GlaxoSmithKline also announced reorganization. The second largest drug maker announced it’s planning on cutting up to 850 research and development jobs in the United States and Great Britain. The job cuts follow the announcement of jobs cuts in June which affected 350 employees.

The biggest news to break late Tuesday was that Eli Lilly and Company is ImClone’s mystery suitor and is slated to buy the company for an unprecedented $6 billion. The acquisition is Eli’s largest purchase ever. The news comes one week after ImClone rejected a takeover offer from Bristol-Myers Squibb. The second top news on BioSpace on Tuesday was Glaxo’s news of job cuts. The lay-offs reflect a growing trend in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical market, as well as in the struggling overall global market.

On Thursday, Merck announced the discontinuation of an investigational medicine for obesity called Taranabant. The reason, the company said, is due to late-stage clinical data that showed there were increased side-effects at higher doses of the drug. Sanofi Aventis also made top headlines on Thursday. According to the CFDT trade union, the company is set to cut as many as 800 jobs in France. The job trimming comes the same week Glaxo said it is planning on cutting up to 850 R&D jobs to improve productivity.

Genentech made Friday headlines when it announced it’s in a $105 million collaboration agreement with Glycart Biotechnology AG and Roche for a potential cancer therapy. Included in the deal is a license from GlycArt to Genentech for the joint development and commercialization of GlycArt’s GA101 molecule. Genentech continued to lead the news on Thursday when it send warned doctors that a patient being treated with its psoriasis drug, Raptiva had developed a rare brain infection known as progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, or PML. Genentech said it will work with the FDA to update the prescribing information for Raptiva and determine if further action is needed.

That’s it for last week’s leading biotech news from the BioSpace news desk...stay tuned for the following week’s top movers and shakers...

Suvarna Bhatt is a Feature Editor for Click here to contact her.

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