Syntiron inks $149M deal with Sanofi; Start-up licenses Roche therapy, raises $23M;

> Biotech start-up Syntiron has struck a $149 million licensing deal with Sanofi-Aventis to jointly create an MRSA vaccine, according to an exclusive report in MedCity News. St. Paul, MN-based Syntiron was spun out of Epitopix to develop new technology that can stop a pathogen from absorbing iron. The Sanofi deal "is a major validation of the [Syntiron] and its technology," said Syntiron CEO Joe Shaw, a former top executive at Johnson & Johnson and veteran of several biotech start-ups. "This will hopefully attract attention from investors [for other applications] and from other companies that make vaccines." Report

> A brand new start-up has set up shop in Palo Alto, CA, struck a licensing deal for one of Roche's early-stage pain programs and brought in $23 million in Series A cash from a string of top-line venture groups. Afferent Pharmaceuticals was co-founded by Anthony Ford, a former vice president of research at Roche, where he worked on the pain program. Third Rock Ventures and Pappas Ventures led the Series A round, with additional money from Domain Associates and New Leaf Venture Partners. Proceeds from the financing will be used to accelerate the development of P2X3 receptor targeted pain therapies. Release

> Auxilium Pharmaceuticals says that its experimental therapy Xiaflex posted promising data from a mid-stage study on Peyronie's disease. And the results have put Auxilium on course for a late-stage trial that could start next year. Xiaflex is also being studied as a possible treatment for Dupuytren's contracture. Story

> Shares of ZymoGenetics slid yesterday after the developer said that it's likely that new studies will need to be conducted ahead of any European approval for Recothrom. Story

> ThromboGenics NV has completed the enrollment of its second Phase III trial evaluating microplasmin for the non-surgical treatment of eye disease. Release

>  Amsterdam Molecular Therapeutics raised EUR 5 million via a private placement of convertible bonds. Release

> Cardio3 BioSciences has completed, two months ahead of schedule, enrollment in the first stage of its pivotal Phase II/III trial of C-Cure, a stem cell therapy for heart failure. Release

Pharma News

> AstraZeneca scored a 'yes' vote at yesterday's FDA advisory panel meeting. The agency's expert advisors recommended the company's cholesterol drug Crestor for broader use--much broader use. If the agency ratifies that decision, Crestor could be marketed to folks who don't even have high cholesterol levels. Story

> The U.K.'s cost-effectiveness watchdog is back on duty, this time guarding the National Health Service's pocketbook from Roche's new arthritis drug RoActemra. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's appraisal committee said it was inclined to reject RoActemra for NHS use--but that it might change its mind if the drugmaker hands over more favorable data. Report

> Well, there was a big reason why Bristol-Myers Squibb CFO Jean-Marc Huet wanted to go back to Europe: Consumer products giant Unilever hired him for the same job. Story

> The U.S. Senate's flirtation with reimportation is over, at least for now. And drugmakers can pat themselves on the back for that. Senators voted 51 to 48 for the measure, nine votes fewer than needed to prevent a filibuster, with some Democrats saying they needed to protect the $80 billion cost-cutting deal with pharma to keep the industry on the healthcare reform bandwagon. Story

> Orchid Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals isn't so different from the average American with lots of credit card debt. A big chunk of its income is earmarked to pay bills. The Indian drugmaker says it plans to pay off debt with the $400 million proceeds from the sale of its generic injectable drugs business to Hospira. Story

> If you needed any more statistics showing that drug prices in the U.S. are higher than in the rest of the world, take a look at a new report from Britain's Department of Health. In their 10th "state of the drug-pricing system" address to lawmakers, health officials compared pharma prices in the U.K. with prices elsewhere in Europe, in the U.S., and in Australia from 2004 to 2008. The U.S. came out on top every year. Report

Manufacturing News

> Following the recent European Union customs exercise that led to the confiscation of 34 million counterfeit pills within two months, consultancy ARC Advisory expects a law requiring the traceability of each pill, perhaps within a year. The law is expected to drive demand for automation tools to support international and inter-entity data exchanges. Story

> Four pharmaceutical companies have exceeded the 50 percent mark in an analysis of the voluntary sustainability reporting. Bristol-Myers Squibb, Sanofi-Aventis, Abbott Labs and Johnson & Johnson took top honors among Fortune 500 pharmaceutical companies. Story

> Continuous processing, rather than batch, may be the future of tablet-making. A U.K. group is targeting efficiency gains in manufacturing to effect cost savings big enough to help U.K. companies compete against lower cost economies. Report

> Changeovers and frequent stops during manufacturing runs trip up pharmaceutical manufacturing operations much more than they do operations in other industries. On average, changeovers consume 14 percent of capacity for drugmakers--nearly five times the lowly 3 percent across all industries. Report

> Three incidents involving pharmaceutical products mar the November Freightwatch International cargo theft report. Among the 64 cases (reported across all industries) were hijackings of H1N1 vaccine, OTC medications and infant formula, reports Secure Pharma Chain. Story

> China has sentenced six traders found guilty of exporting fake anti-malaria drugs to Nigeria to death. The Chinese government had apologized to the West African nation and promised a thorough investigation following last June's discovery and seizure by Nigerian officials of some $210,000 worth of the phony drugs. Report

And Finally... Study says: Couples who share responsibilities for both paid work as well as household chores like washing the dishes are, on average, happier than other family models. Release