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Week 44: Bayer adamant to not separate divisions while Pfizer puts Women’s Health division up for sale, Elanco debuts new ammonia reducing drug in beef cattle

Posted on November 8, 2018 in Uncategorized

Week 44 in the News:

Bayer called on to separate company’s divisions

Some industry experts called for division between healthcare, crop sciences, and animal health entities of Bayer, but CEO Werner Baumann stood firm in his view that they should be kept together. Analysts suggested a split to help with share prices between the three tiers, since Bayer’s share price has dropped 25% since last August.

The share drop could be contributed to last August, after Bayer purchased Monsanto for $63bn and a US Jury found the company’s glyphosate-based weed killer responsible for an individual’s terminal cancer, with an additional 8,700 people seeking damages.

Werner bases his stance to keep them together on his view that each division can hold their own against competitors in their respective markets. He also plans to reveal strategy to the company this winter for projections reaching into 2022.

Bayer is the only major drugmaker that has a farming supply division and is adamant about keeping diversity in its business model, compared to its competitors who sold off their animal health and respective division to prioritize their focus to one unit.

Analysts at Baader Helvea and Bernstein Research have suggested following suit of Bayer’s competitors to sell of its animal health unit, valued around $8bn, to help with their share price but Baumann is standing firm to keep everything under one roof.

Pfizer has posted its Women’s Health line for sale

After failing to sell its consumer health line back in the spring, the company states it wishes to focus on more profitable lines within the company.

The portfolio generated $1.2bn in sales this last year and has a price tag of $2bn.

If competitors’ lack of luck in selling similar portfolios this last year, alongside their failed sale earlier this year, is any indication that Pfizer could be in for a let-down.

However, Pfizer has historically been a trailblazer when it comes to successfully selling lines of business, with their previous lines of baby food being sold to Nestlé and animal health company, Zoetis, separating in previous years. 

Genentech has fallen victim to industrial espionage

Three employees have been accused of sharing inside manufacturing and raw material handling information with Taiwanese biosimilar company, JHL Biotech.

Together, the three employees have pleaded not guilty to charges, including conspiring to sell trade secrets, separate counts of theft and computer fraud. All three employees were released on bonds.

Genentech isn’t the only company recently to have employees sell their secrets to competitors. GlaxoSmithKline were involved in an FBI investigation, where two workers admitted to sharing trade secrets with a Chinese competitor, Renopharma.

Genentech stated that high level employees at JHL were involved in the espionage, with one of their own senior researchers is being accused of secretly working for JHL while employed at Genentech, starting back in 1986.

Investigations are still underway after being filed with the US Attorney’s office.

Minnesota-based study being called in to question for violations

A letter composed by Public Citizen, a group of healthcare professionals including bioethicists, has called in to question the informed consent protocols of a Minnesota-based study to evaluate using ketamine as a pre-hospital sedative for agitated patients.

The institution in question, Hennepin County Medical Center, has been accused of not following proper protocol to obtain informed consent of patients being treated and to take adequate steps to protect patients deemed vulnerable.

Further statements accused the center for incorrectly waiving informed consent policies due to the “minimal risk” patients would face and for having a “broad definition” of what constitutes agitation that resulted in some patients receiving powerful drugs who may not have otherwise.

The complaint also stated that patient selection was not performed properly, having patients being chosen based off of the month they were enrolled rather than any judgement based on a healthcare professional’s assessment of what was deemed best for the patient.

Outsourcing-pharma highlights two papers that explain the results of the two ketamine trials released, and how a member of Public Citizen, Dr. Michael Carome, indicates these violations are a sign that the Hennepin County Medical Center’s protection of human subjects are facing systemic breakdowns. Read the full article here.

Merck’s Gardasil vaccine shows no signs of slowing down as worldwide demand increases.

The vaccine protects against certain types of cancer-causing HPV strains and just achieved a label expansion to cover people aged 27 to 45 years old, after initial coverage was only for people aged 9 to 26 years old.

Countries like Australia have seen an increase in subjects vaccinated, with a potential to see a cervical cancer elimination goal reached.

Merck has stated they have increased manufacturing funding to help meet this new demand.

Can vitamin D help your cardio fitness?

A new study out of Virginia Commonwealth University has found a link between vitamin D and cardiorespiratory fitness, with evidence to suggest it plays a significant role in the health of the heart and other muscles through an association of elevated vitamin D levels and increased exercise capacity.

The study concluded that it was strictly observational in nature and there cannot be a definite link indicating vitamin D and improved exercise. It also cautions against megadoses of vitamin D and its potential toxicity in the body, stating sun exposure and specific diets are safer and to be watchful when supplementing with oral vitamin D tablets.

FDA approves new drug to help reduce ammonia emissions in cattle

The FDA has approved the use of Experior, manufactured and sold by Elanco (Eli Lily and Co) to help reduce the amount of ammonia produced by cattle manure in an effort the reduce atmospheric and environmental impacts.

The study indicates that the effects can be seen when fed to beef cattle under certain conditions in small numbers, with no indications of the effects on larger herds or at the farm level.

This comes as an effort to reduce negative impacts of high levels of ammonia, namely when it reaches noxious levels in the atmosphere which can cause irritation of mucus membranes and respiratory tract in both humans and animals. Excess ammonia levels can impact the health of bodies of water that leads to excess levels of nutrients (eutrophication). This can lead to algal blooms and negatively impact aquatic life by blocking sunlight, which can contribute to massive die offs of aquatic species.

Experior is the first drug of its kind to be approved in a partial reduction of ammonia emissions of an animal or the waste it creates. No negative effects on overall health were noted in the study, nor were there any reports that it could impact production levels of beef cattle in regard to weight gain or feed efficiency on any level.

Read the full reports here and here.