Company news from the 11/28/06 news brief

Pfizer entered a deal with generic drug manufacturer Teva that resolves two separate lawsuits alleging patent infringement of Pfizer's cancer medication, Idamycin, and its antibiotic, Zithromax. As part of the settlement, Teva will pay up to $70 million to Pfizer, which includes an option in 2007 for Teva to sell its own generic version of epirubicin, another cancer medication, prior to the August 2007 patent expiration. In addition, Teva will not contest the validity of the patents. The agreement will end litigation by Pfizer against Teva and Sicor, a company owned by Teva, over Sicor's sales of idarubicin—the active ingredient in Idamycin—and Teva's sale of azithromycin (the active ingredient in Zithromax). Under the agreement Sicor will be able to continue to market idarubicin, which it launched prior to patent expiry in September 2002, and Teva can continue to sell its generic version of Zithromax. Organon and Pfizer agreed to discontinue their collaboration to develop asenapine, a new drug candidate for the treatment of schizophrenia and acute mania associated with bipolar I disorder. In a statement Pfizer said the decision is “an outcome of a commercial analysis of the compound as a part of (the) overall portfolio.” Pfizer will return all product rights, intellectual property and data to Organon and make orderly transitions during 2007. Organon will continue to develop asenapine, Pfizer said. The Department of Health and Human Services is buying $199.45 million more worth of vaccines designed to protect against the H5N1 avian flu virus. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said the government awarded three contracts: a $117.9 million contract to Sanofi Pasteur for 3.7 million doses, a $40.95 million contract to Novartis for 800,000 doses and a $40.6 million to GlaxoSmithKline for 800,000 doses. The vaccines represent enough doses for nearly 2.7 million people. The purchases supplement the existing national stockpile of 5.9 million doses of H5N1 vaccine and build on the department’s plans to buy enough vaccine for 20 million people, HHS said in a statement. Johnson & Johnson will eliminate about 160 positions at its New Jersey corporate headquarters. The cuts will fall within departments that provide centralized support for the corporation and are part of a reorganization of some of the departments that serve the firms 200 operating companies. No sales or marketing positions will be eliminated in the reorganization, Marc Monseau, a J&J spokesman, told MM&M. The cuts were reported in the (Central NJ) Home News Tribune. “Every effort is being made to help employees whose positions have been eliminated find other opportunities within the J&J family of companies,” Monseau added. The timing of the cuts and the number of employees who will be transferred rather than lose jobs was not available.