Pharmaceutical manufacturing: news in brief

By Staff Reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Drug delivery, Ulcerative colitis brings you a selection of other headlines
from the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.

QLTis acquiring ForSight Newco IIfor $42m​ as the Canadian company moves to focus on innovative ocular drug delivery. The acquisition includes ForSight's proprietary ocular punctual plug drug delivery system, which will be used to target glaucoma. QLT will also acquire future milestone payments and royalties on net sales of products including a $5m payment upon the initiation of a Phase III clinical trial for the first product, $20m on first commercialisation on each of the first two products using the drug delivery technology and $15m on first commercialisation of each subsequent product. The punctual plugs are a non-invasive drug delivery system of drugs through the controlled release to the tear film and have the potential to replace a variety of eye drops which currently represent a $6bn market. "This acquisition is a clear strategic fit. It compliments our expertise in ophthalmology, and it supports our goal to expand our pipeline of ocular products,"​ QLT president and chief executive Bob Butchofsky said. The acquisition is expected to close early in the fourth quarter this year and is subject to customary closing conditions. John Hopkins scientists have developed a way to fight colorectal cancer​ by delivering radiation to the inside of the cells thereby attacking the cancerous cells from the inside. Instead of using large antibodies to deliver the drugs, the John Hopkins team designed small bits of protein only 10 amino acids long as the foundation for their drugs and then attached radioactive phosphorous, P32. The cells ingested the small proteins as well as the radiation, which went on to break up the cell's DNA and proteins. While the radiation delivery system is still in its infancy, the scientists found the MA5 peptide was 150 times more likely to bind to adenocarcinoma cells, which make up 95 per cent of colon cancers, and was transferred into cells within two hours. Capsugel, a division of Pfizer, is offering its Vcaps hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose (HPMC) capsules for use in dry powder inhalation products. ​ The announcement follows a licensing agreement between Capsugel and Teijin Pharma which allows Capsugel to license Teijin's entire patent portfolio related to the use of HPMC capsules for inhalation products. Capsugel already markets HPMC capsules for oral dosage forms. The capsules are two-piece capsules made from HPMC as the primary film-forming material, instead of gelatine - which is currently the most common component of capsules. The advantage in dry powder inhalers is the capsules do not fracture into small pieces making the products safer. As an alternative to gelatine capsules, the company said HPMC capsules could be used for inhalation treatments beyond the traditional ones for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. Spain-based Laboratorios Almirall has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a portfolio of eight products from Shire for $213m (€151m). ​ The portfolio acquired consists of two dermatology products: Solaraze (diclofenac sodium) and Vaniqa (eflornithine). The six other products include: Lodine (etodolac), for rheumatoid arthritis; Colazide (balsalazide disodium), for ulcerative colitis; Cebutid (flurbiprofen), for rheumatoid arthritis; meptid (meptazinol), for pain; Robaxin (methocarbamol), a muscle relaxant; and Mintec (peppermint oil BP), for irritable bowel syndrome. Almirall is focussing on international expansion, with the Shire acquisition a step onto English soil. Also with this move, Almirall expands its range of dermatological products and reinforces its portfolio in the area of pain, gastrointestinal and inflammatory diseases. Do-it-yourself abortions at home could be adopted into law in the UK​ following the announcement that drugs that induce miscarriages are safe to use at home. The news was announced by the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV at a Commons committee where the subject of abortion legislation is undergoing an inquiry with possible amendments to the legislation later this year. The at home abortion would involve taking two pills; mifepristone, which causes the foetus to detach from the womb; and then two days later, misoprostol, which induces a miscarriage. Women can currently take the pills in hospital, but should the law change, women could be taking the second pill at home. The evidence from the committee will be used to debate the bill on abortions next week.

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