Kilogram; Ministry for Natural Resources; Shire Pharmaceuticals; Gillette; Animal rights

  • The kilogram needs redefining, according to a report in the journal Metrologia. It is the only SI unit still defined by a physical artefact - a cylinder of platinum-iridium alloy. ’The time has come for the definition of the kilogram to also be based on an unchanging natural phenomenon, either a quantity of light or the mass of a fixed number of atoms,’ says author Ed Williams of the US National Institute of Standards and Technology.
  • Russia’s Ministry for Natural Resources has decreed that companies must be at least 51 per cent Russian-owned to take part in this year’s tenders for strategic oil and metals deposits. The rule may prevent oil companies such as ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco from developing new Russian oil reserves, reports the Financial Times.
  • Shares in UK-based drugs group Shire Pharmaceuticals dropped more than 10 per cent at the beginning of February after Canadian regulators called for the withdrawal of its Adderall XR drug for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The decision came as a surprise, since the US Food and Drug Administration had previously ruled that data on links between Adderall XR and 20 sudden deaths in patients with heart conditions did not justify the drug’s withdrawal.
  • The acquisition of Gillette by Proctor and Gamble, signed off at the end of January, has generated a combination that eclipses Unilever as the world’s largest consumer and household goods company by revenue. P&G has 16 billion-dollar brands, including Olay and Max Factor, while Gillette has five.
  • The UK government has proposed jail sentences of up to five years for animal rights protesters who obstruct experiments. The measures also aim to protect organisations associated with animal experimentation, from buildings contractors working on new laboratories to couriers and cleaners. UK animal rights activists are reportedly among the world’s most vociferous.