ICI; PPL Therapeutics; Johnson & Johnson; Amgen; Chimerix; Genentech.

  • ICI has sold the food side of its troubled Quest International subsidiary to Kerry Group, Ireland, for $440m ( ca ?238m). The companies expect the deal to be completed in Q2 2004, subject to regulatory approvals and employee consultation. Quest will now focus its efforts on its flavour and fragrance businesses, which it intends to restructure. ICI expects the Quest transaction to give rise to a loss after tax of about ?50m.
  • PPL Therapeutics recently announced that it is ’almost certain’ to declare itself bankrupt, putting the group into a ’members’ voluntary liquidation’. PPL’s two remaining executive directors had offered to take what is left of the company into private hands but objections from a key shareholder put paid to such an idea.
  • Johnson & Johnson (J & J) will buy Merck’s 50 per cent stake in their European non-prescription pharmaceutical joint venture known as Johnson & Johnson*MSD Europe. J & J will have complete ownership of the business. The financial terms of the deal were undisclosed.
  • Amgen, a US biotechnology company, has officially opened its new R & D campus in Seattle, Washington, US. The Helix campus cost $625m ( ca ?347m) to build and will house researchers, process development scientists and support personnel. Amgen predicts that the location of the facility will increase opportunities for its staff to collaborate with Seattle research centres such as the University of Washington.
  • Chimerix, a US biotechnology company, has been awarded a $600 000 ( ca ?334 000) grant by the US National Institutes of Health. Chimerix will use the award to support preclinical development of drug candidates to treat multi-drug resistant HIV-1 infection. The company modifies drugs so that the resulting molecules mimic natural lipid metabolites.
  • Genentech, US, has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for Avastin, its novel cancer drug for metastatic cancer of the colon or rectum, to be used with chemotherapy.