PHARMACY

Bristol-Myers Squibb to restructure, cut work force by 10 percent

BY Drew Buono

NEW YORK Bristol-Myers Squibb has announced a major overhaul that will eliminate about half of its 27 manufacturing sites worldwide and cut its work force of 43,000 employees by more than 10 percent, according to the nytimes.com.

The company said it would shed its medical imaging division based in North Billerica, Mass., and was reviewing “strategic alternatives” for two other large nonpharmaceutical operations. 

Those include its baby formula business Mead Johnson Nutritionals, based in Evansville, Ind., and its ConvaTec products business, based in Skillman, N.J. ConvaTec specializes in products for wound care and ostomies—surgical openings in the abdomen to eliminate bodily wastes. The company plans on moving its focus to specialty drugs.

In a move begun by his predecessor, Peter Dolan, the current chief executive, James Cornelius, is shifting Bristol-Myers away from reliance on its blood-thinner Plavix, which loses patent protection in 2011, to an array of specialty treatments, including the specialty drugs Erbitux for cancer, Sustiva for HIV and Abilify for psychiatric disorders, as well as cardiac and metabolic treatments.

The company did not say exactly where the layoffs would occur, but did note that 1,300 employees at various locations had already been notified. Most of the jobs are in back-office operations, human resources, information technology and finance, the company said.

By the end of next year, the company expects to cut an additional 3,500 jobs—which would be in addition to any employees who leave Bristol-Myers as a result of the spin-off or sale of operations.

In a separate announcement on Tuesday, the company said it was closing a plant in Colon, Panama, where products are packaged.

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PHARMACY

Wyeth and GSK may see competition in pediatric vaccines

BY Allison Cerra

LONDON There may be a clash of the titans underway.

Pharma giants Wyeth and GlaxoSmithKline are set to go head to head with their competing childhood vaccines, but Wyeth dismissed any worries about the newcomer to the vaccine playground.

Wyeth’s Prevnar will remain a key sales driver for the company but would not be hindered by Glaxo’s Synflorix, said Emilio Emini, the U.S. group’s head of vaccine research and development, on Tuesday.

Prevnar, a vaccine for infants and children to prevent certain invasive pneumococcal diseases, is active against seven types of streptococcus pneumonia, which together account for some 80 percent of illnesses, Reuters reported Tuesday.

Glaxo’s Synflorix, which a company spokeswoman said remained on track for submission to European regulators by the end of 2007, targets 10 types, and even prevents inflammation of the middle ear.

But Emini said Synflorix was incomparable to the new version of Prevnar.

“Essentially, it is a direct equivalent of the original Prevnar,” he said in an interview with Reuters on the sidelines of the FT Global Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Conference. “If you look at the residual 20 percent of disease (not addressed by Prevnar) and ask how much is covered by the GSK 10-valent vaccine, it’s actually a small percentage. How much is covered by Prevnar-13? It’s over 60 percent,” Emini said.

Wyeth intends to submit a new version of Prevnar, active against 13 strains, to both European and U.S. regulators by the beginning of 2009.

The original version of the vaccine was introduced in 2000. Third-quarter sales of Prevnar were up 24 percent from a year earlier at $634 million.

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Biomira to make move to U.S. under new name

BY Drew Buono

EDMONTON, Canada Biomira shareholders have approved a plan to move the company to the U.S. and to change its name to Oncothyreon Incorporated. Oncothyreon will be the parent corporation of a successor company of Biomira and its subsidiaries, according to Canada.com.

The biotech company, which focuses on cancer treatment, currently has a few drugs in its pipeline including Stimuvax, which it is developing with Merck to treat non-small cell lung cancer. That drug is currently in a Phase III clinical trial. The next drug that is furthest along in development is a small molecule called PX-12, which is a drug used to treat pancreatic cancer and is currently in a Phase II trial.

“We are very pleased to have received the strong support of our shareholders for our relocation and the revision of our capital structure,” chief executive officer Robert Kirkland said. The shareholders will receive one-sixth of a share of common stock of Oncothyreon in exchange for each Biomira share. The new company will be based in Seattle.

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