Novartis vaccine unit draws bids; Heat Bio board; DARA loss; Sensus recognized
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Research Triangle Park, N.C. — The latest technology and life sciences news in WRALTechWire's Bulldog Bulletin roundup:
- Novartis said to draw interest for $1B vaccines business
NEW YORK – Novartis AG is drawing interest from potential bidders for its human-vaccines unit as talks to swap its animal-health business for assets from Merck & Co. slow down, people with knowledge of the matter said.
Novartis operates a huge vaccine operation in Holly Springs, N.C.
While the vaccines unit was initially on the table with animal health as part of the possible trade for Merck’s over- the-counter drugs business, Novartis may now sell vaccines separately, said three of the people, who asked not to be named because the process is private. The business could be valued at about $1 billion, one of the people said. Novartis operates a large vaccine manufacturing plant in Holly Springs.
Novartis, Europe’s biggest drugmaker by sales, and Merck, the second-largest U.S. pharmaceuticals company, are continuing discussions about trading assets because both want to build existing businesses, the people said. Still, agreeing on valuation is proving difficult, so Novartis has informally talked to Eli Lilly & Co. and Bayer AG about their interest in the animal-health business even as it continues negotiations with Merck, the people said.
The potential sale of the vaccines unit is part of Chief Executive Officer Joe Jimenez’s efforts to revamp the Swiss drugmaker by focusing on core businesses. Last month it sold a blood diagnostics business to Spain’s Grifols SA for about $1.7 billion as part of a review of the company’s operations.
- Heat Bio creates advisory board
CHAPEL HILL – Heat Biologics (NASDAQ: HTBX) has created a clinical advisory board to guide and design the company’s clinical trials.
Dr. Justin Stebbing has been named chairman of the advisory board and he will also be chief medical advisor to the Chapel Hill company. The advisory board will work with Heat’s clinical team; Stebbing will be lead advisor on the company’s clinical trials.
Heat’s lead experimental cancer treatment is in mid-stage clinical trials for lung cancer.
Stebbing is currently a professor of oncology at Imperial College, London. He received his medical degree from Trinity College Oxford, completed his residency at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and his oncology training at The Royal Marsden and St Bartholomew's hospitals.
- DARA reports 2013 loss
RALEIGH – DARA BioSciences (NASDAQ: DARA) reported a 2013 net loss of $9.9 million, widened from the $7.3 million loss at the end of 2012.
The Raleigh company attributed the loss to the costs of establishing sales and marketing infrastructure to support the promotion of new oncology and oncology supportive care products. DARA said that it had additional administrative expenses as the company transitioned from what had been a solely R&D company.
As of December 31, 2013, DARA’s cash and cash equivalents and available for sale investments totaled approximately $3.4 million.
- Sensus named ‘company to watch’
RALEIGH – Smart utility meter company Sensus has been named by Smart Grid News as one of the “companies to watch.”
It’s the second year in a row that Raleigh-based Sensus has made Smart Grid News’ list. The list was determined by readers’ vote for the top 14 companies. Sensus was was recognized for its ability to prove interoperability of multiple applications running on its FlexNet™ communication network and for its newly opened demonstration lab in Research Triangle Park.
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