• 6 November 2007
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Biogen Idec opens first office in India

Biogen Idec, a pioneer in biotechnology and the oldest independent biotechnology company in the world, officially opened an office in Gurgaon. Dr Gunther Winkler, senior vice president, strategic initiatives, attended the event as part of his visit to India. The Gurgaon facility will serve as the headquarters of the company's recently established wholly-owned Indian subsidiary Biogen Idec Biotech India. The India entity is headed by Dr Alpna Seth, a long-time veteran of the industry, who has been with Biogen Idec in the US for the past nine years in various leadership roles spanning R&D to commercial.

Speaking about the entry into India, James Mullen, president and CEO, Biogen Idec, said, "Having a presence in India is part of the long-term strategy and vision for Biogen Idec. We expect to make significant investments in the country over the next few years and develop partnerships and collaborations. With this office we hope to better understand the opportunities here and eventually meet the needs of Indian patients."

Dr Seth added, "India enjoys several benefits as a center of drug development including a vast scientific talent pool, emerging biologics capabilities and particularly strong competencies in small molecules and new chemical entities. We look forward to not only forging R&D relationships with Indian companies, investigators and academic institutions but also integrating India into Biogen Idec's global clinical development plans."


Biocon, Abraxis BioScience announce approval of Abraxane in India

Bangalore-based Biocon Ltd and Abraxis BioScience, an integrated, global biopharmaceutical company, have announced the approval to market Abraxane for Injectable Suspension (paclitaxel protein-bound particles for injectable suspension) (albumin-bound) in India for the treatment of breast cancer by the country's Drug Controller General. Commercial introduction of Abraxane in the Indian market is expected in 2008 following the completion of the appropriate importation certifications.

"The approval of Abraxane for the treatment of breast cancer in India is an important step in providing access to the nab (nanoparticle albumin bound) technology globally," said Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD, chairman and chief executive officer of Abraxis BioScience. "In partnership with Biocon, we are excited to offer physicians in India this important advance in the treatment of breast cancer."

In August 2007, Biocon and Abraxis announced an agreement for the commercialization of Abraxane in India by Biocon. Under the terms of the agreement, Biocon will have the right to market Abraxane in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and certain other South Asian and Persian Gulf countries.

Abraxis BioScience will be initiating a worldwide head-to-head Phase III registration trial comparing weekly Abraxane to every three week Taxotere for the treatment of first-line metastatic breast cancer as well as Phase III trials for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer and melanoma. Abraxane is currently under active review in Australia, Russia, China and the European Union by their respective regulatory agencies.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairman and managing director, Biocon Ltd, "This is a significant step for Biocon's innovation led oncotherapeutics division in our endeavor to bring new therapeutics for Indian cancer patients. There is a huge need for Abraxane in the treatment of breast cancer in the country and we look forward to attaining market leadership in this segment."

Abraxane is an important addition to Biocon's oncotherapeutics portfolio which has already seen the successful launch of its proprietary antibody, BIOMAb EGFR for the treatment of head and neck cancers.


ICRISAT, IIAM to set up farm business incubator

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is establishing a farm business incubator in Mozambique in collaboration with the Institute of Agricultural Research of Mozambique (IIAM).

ICRISAT and IIAM conducted a feasibility study in Mozambique and developed a business model for the farm business incubator at IIAM. A key management team from IIAM had visited India recently and studied the functioning of the agri-business incubator at ICRISAT.

Once completed the farm business incubator will be among the earliest of its kind in Africa and would develop agri-enterprise that will benefit Mozambique's agriculture, animal husbandry and food processing.

Dr William Dar, director general, ICRISAT, and Dr Calisto Bias, director general, IIAM, signed the Letter of Intent to set up the incubator.


Suven, Minnesota varsity team up for HIV-1

Suven Life Sciences has partnered with the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA, to develop new therapies to treat human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1).

Suven and University of Minnesota would collaborate in a research and test program to explore clinical efficacy of, and make available to patients, under safe conditions, certain naturally- occurring substances that are believed to have therapeutic value for HIV-1.

Suven would collaborate with the University of Minnesota Infectious Diseases and International medicine group to develop the drugs by using natural resources, said Venkat Jasti, CEO, Suven Life Sciences.

Dr Phillip Peterson, director, Center for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Translational Research and Dr Ramaiah Muthyala, associate director, Center for Orphan Drug Research, College of Pharmacy of University of Minnesota stated that they were particularly impressed with the shared mission and vision of their centers and Suven.


ClinInvent ties up with Promedica International

Promedica International (PMI), a US-based CRO providing services to the medical device, biotech and pharmaceutical industries, has announced the establishment of a new strategic alliance with ClinInvent, an India-based CRO.

PMI chose to formalize the alliance with ClinInvent based on the latter's' cultural similarities in terms of client orientation and service. "The PMI-ClinInvent combined experience and service provider relationships in clinical research facilitate implementation of projects in North America and India," said Ellen Palo, PMI founder.

"The PMI-ClinInvent alliance creates opportunities to offer clients outside India the advantage of access of Indian sites for speedy clinical trials", said Dr Arun Bhatt, president of ClinInvent. "Further, the Indian clients will get support in expanding their clinical development globally."


NRDC holds Innovate India conference

A national conference on 'Leveraging Innovations & Inventions' was organized in New Delhi, on October 15-16, 2007 by the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC). The two-day conference was inaugurated by Dr R Chidambaram, principal scientific adviser to the Government of India. Dr R Chidambaram presented awards to inventors for their meritorious invention for the year 2007 and also presented WIPO medals for the year 2006.

In his inaugural address, Dr R Chidambaram observed that the inventors are never satisfied and go for newer inventions all the time. Appreciating the role played by NRDC, he said that such programs would give added encouragement to inventors, apart form the regular activities of NRDC in technology transfer, promoting inventions and protecting intellectual properties.

Emphasizing on strategic innovations, he said, "Development without security is not sustainable and security without development is meaningless". He also called upon the innovators and entrepreneurs to know the knack of capturing economic value from the inventions.

Dr Chidambaram emphasized on the importance and working of small and medium enterprises. Since our industry is short sighted and wants always quick results, the area of research has to be looked after by the government. Two things, he said, are very important directed basic research, and pre-emptive applied research.

This year, five inventions have been awarded in the fields of agriculture, chemical and engineering sciences: design and development of pollution-free cotton seed delinting plant; a high performance syntan for eco-benign chrome tanning; anti-scratch coatings on plastic ophthalmic lenses and sheets using inorganic-organic hybrid nanocomposites; fault current limiter for LT switchgear and appliances and jhoola pump.


GVK launches research center for Wyeth

GVK Biosciences has inaugurated the GVK BIO Wyeth Hyderabad Chemistry Center, a built-to-suit research center for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals at Nacharam in Hyderabad.

A team of 200 synthetic chemists and scientists work on the synthesis of reference standards, building blocks, intermediates, analogues, focused libraries and screening libraries for Wyeth.

Dr Robert Ruffolo, president, Wyeth Research, inaugurated the facility. "By working with GVK BIO as a partner, we are able to tap into the huge chemistry talent pool in India and to work globally on a 24-hour basis. This partnership significantly increases our chemistry capacity and complements our already strong in-house synthetic chemistry efforts," Dr Ruffolo said.

David Hopper, consul general, United States Consulate, Chennai, and GV Sanjay Reddy, MD, GVK BIO were present at the inauguration.


Bharat Biotech launches Revac-Bmcf vaccine

Bharat Biotech has once again become the first Indian vaccine manufacturer to successfully produce Revac-Bmcf, a thimerosal-free Hepatitis B vaccine and usher in an era of preferred vaccines. A thimerosal-free hepatitis vaccine is preferred choice of pediatricians for birth dose vaccination of new born babies within 12 hours of birth. The launch of Revac-Bmcf (thimerosal -free) at an affordable price by Bharat Biotech will also address the needs of parents and members of the medical fraternity who prefer the use of thimerosal-free vaccines.

Globally, seven multinational companies (MNCs) manufacture thimerosal -free vaccines such as Hepatitis B, Flu, Hepatitis A, DTaP, DTap+HepB+IPV, Hib, Hib+Hep B, HPV, IPV, MMR, MMR+Varicella, Pneumococcal, rabies, typhoid and yellow fever vaccines for use in markets worldwide. Bharat Biotech joins this elite club of vaccine manufacturers in developing, manufacturing and commercializing thimerosal-free vaccines. Several other vaccines in the current product line and future pipeline of Bharat Biotech will also be developed and commercialized in thimerosal-free presentations.

Bharat Biotech has effectively optimized its production technologies to ensure the phasing out of thimerosal as a preservative wherever possible.


Panacea inks pact with Family Vaccines

Panacea Biotec has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with Family Vaccines, Philippines, to provide access to value added combination vaccines under the umbrella of "Easy Vaccines" manufactured by Panacea Biotec, to the people in Philippines through a chain of 50 immunization clinics, run by Family Vaccines.

Panacea Biotec has been playing an imperative role in immunization through its novel and innovative, world's first fully liquid vaccine with brands such as, 'Easy Four' and 'Easy Five', for over three years. It has partnered with WHO and UNICEF with a mission of supporting the cause of maximizing coverage of vaccines under the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) for more than a decade.

The MoA was signed between Rajesh Jain, JMD, Panacea Biotec and Jaime Enrique Gonzalez, managing director of Family Vaccines on the platform of Confederation of Indian Industries (CII ) in Mumbai on October 4, 2007.

Speaking on the occasion, Rajesh Jain, JMD, Panacea Biotec, said, "Panacea Biotec has built an innovative portfolio in combination vaccines under 'Easy' range of vaccines which has enabled it achieve a leadership position in just about two years of its launch in India. While fully liquid DTP combos would be the arena of focus to start the partnership with Family Vaccine, it would eventually work towards introduction of Polprotec (IPV) and its combination vaccines in due course. With a very strong, innovative product pipeline in immunization, Panacea Biotec is all set to venture into global markets."

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