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PHARMACEUTICALS

Akzo Nobel to develop bird flu vaccine

The Dutch-Swedish pharamceutical group Akzo Nobel said on Tuesday that it would develop a vaccine against the human form of bird flu and that tests would begin next year.

Akzo Nobel said that its subsidiary Nobilon International was working on developing a vaccine against the human variant H5N1 of bird flu. Nobilon International was working with a pharmaceutical arm of Akzo Nobel, Organon.

The group said that development work was in an initial phase. Work so far had been approved under the European standard for good manufacturing practice issued by the pharmaceutical industry and work could now progress to production and clinical trials.

The first tests were planned for 2006. The vaccine would be developed in The Netherlands in a factory run by Nobilon at Boxmeer in the east of the country.

The veterinary branch of Akzo Nobel, Intervet, already provides a vaccine for administration to poultry as a defence against bird flu.

AFP

DRUGS

AstraZeneca snaps up US inhaler company

Swedish drugmakers AstraZeneca is poised to buy a US producer of inhalers, used to treat patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

AstraZeneca snaps up US inhaler company

The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals group said on Monday that it had agreed to buy US firm Pearl Therapeutics for up to $1.15 billion.

“AstraZeneca announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Pearl Therapeutics, a privately held company based in Redwood City, California, focused on the development of inhaled small-molecule therapeutics for respiratory disease,” it said in a statement.

“The acquisition will give AstraZeneca access to a potential new treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), currently in late-stage development, and inhaler and formulation technology that provides a platform for future combination products.”

London-listed AstraZeneca will pay $560 million initially upon completion. However, the price can rise up to $1.15 billion, depending on sales, as well as on passing development and regulatory milestones.

“Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease continues to increase worldwide and there is a growing need for the next generation of inhaled combination products,” said AstraZeneca Chief Executive Pascal Soriot in the statement.

“Pearl’s novel formulation technology, together with its development products and specialist expertise are a great complement to AstraZeneca’s long-established capabilities in respiratory disease, one of our core therapy areas.

The acquisition is expected to complete in the third quarter of this year, subject to regulatory approvals.

AFP/The Local/at

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