Published: Saturday 15 August 1998

SIDE-EFFECTS: The France-based Roche Holding AC, has planned to withdraw its drug for high blood pressure, Posicor, as its interaction with other medicines is poor. Long term clinical trials have shown that Posicor is no more effective in treating congestive heart failure. Last year, company officials had warned that there were chances of Posicor causing low heart rates in some patients and might also increase the risk of muscle injury if taken with satin cholesterol drugs. With the withdrawal, Roche shares have fallen considerably.

MOBILE ENTERPRISE: Mobil Oil Corporation, along with Thailand's Unique Gas and Petrochemicals and Japan's Mitsui and Co, would soon set up a US $30 million lubricant oil blending plant in Vietnam. The plant would produce and sell liquefied petroleum gas, lubricants for private vehicles, industries, marine and agricultural purposes and bitumen locally. The joint enterprise is known as Mobil Unique (Vietnam) Co, and it will start production by next year, said the chairperson of Mobil Asia Pacific. Though Vietnam's economic growth is slow, this enterprise is a part of a long term strategy in Asia, he said.

UP FOR GRABS: Europe's leading medical technology company, Sulzer Medica has planned to sell its heart pacemaker business. It has been decided in the wake of stiff competition faced by the company from the US. Company officials said that Sulzer has decided to concentrate on its orthopaedics and cardiovascular prostheses business. According to the company, these products have good market prospects. The pacemaker business of Sulzer accounted for about one-third of its' sales and the employment of 40 per cent of the staff.

HERBS ON SALE: The US-based herbal company, Sunrider International, will enter the Indian market by the end of 1998. The pro-ducts include a range of herbal food, drink, and cosmetic products. The company has planned to invest about US $27 million in India in the next five years, says Oi-Lin Chen, president, Sunrider International. The company, according to Chen, may set up a manufacturing plant in India in order to tap the herbal resources of the country. The health products of the company include food supplement drinks and snacks, while there is a range of household cleaning products too.

DRUG LAUNCH: Novartis India will launch three new drugs this year for treatment of severe blood pressure and angina, alzheimers disease and cancer. The company also plans to market its drugs on cardiology, neurology, cancer, kidney transplant, gynaecology and pain relievers. K S Kumar, the group's product manager, said that another product, Starlix, for treatment of diabetes would be launched in Europe by the parent company. Once the trials are completed, the drug could also be launched in India.

COAL POWER: Southern Energy Co and Johnston Development (JSD) Co of the US have signed an agreement with Shanxi Enhua Energy (SEE) Co, for a US $500 million project to build two 300 MW coal fired power plants in the Shanxi province of China. Xishan Coal Electricity (Group) Co, would develop the project site near the city of Gujiao. The project is the first large scale power project being sponsored by China's coal industry. By the year 2005, Shanxi also plans to add 5000 MW of installed generating capacity.

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