Published: Tuesday 15 December 1998

ALTERNATIVE FUEL: An Indian company, Motor Medics (India) Ltd (MIL) and a Canadian firm, Alternative Fuel Systems (AFS), have signed an agreement to sell and later manufacture systems which convert gasoline-burning vehicles into natural gas vehicles. The system, called the Sparrow Conversion System, will be installed in Maruti vehicles. Under the agreement, the MIL has to immediately begin negotiations with the Maruti Udyog Limited for an annual minimum supply of 20,000 Sparrow conversion system with high pressure gas components. The collaboration will allow MIP to manufacture the system locally, MIP will provide capital and personnel while AFS will assist in expertise and transfer technology.

DRUG APPROVED: Enbrel, a geneticalty-engineered drug has won the US government approval to be marketed in the country. The drug has been developed to treat patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. It is different from the earlier drugs as it will cause fewer side effects. According to Micheal Friedman, the US Food and Drug Administration commissioner, "For some patients, this product can significantly reduce pain and swollen joints that have restricted their normal daily activities for years.

CONSTRUCTION SOFTWARE: Pune-based Kanix Infotech Pvt Ltd has launched specialised software, Highrise, which will cater to the requirements of the construction industry. Vinay Kasture, the director of the company, said the software helps the construction industry from project feasibility stage to completion. The three-tier structure of the Highrise enables data exchange among the different site offices, allowing information flow without duplication.

USEFUL CHEMICAL: Japan's largest trading company, Itochu Corporation, and US refining firm Arco Products, 11 have signed a US $200-million joint venture to produce and market polypropylene resin. The chemical is used in manufacturing of carpets, clothing, packaging, food containers, bottles and toys. Polypropylene market is one of the fastest growing in the plastics industry. Under the terms of the deal, Arco will own a two-thirds majority interest in the joint venture, to be called Arco Polypropylene, and will he responsible for US marketing. Itochu will take control of international marketing.

SIGNIFICANT DEAL: German drugs and chemicals group Hoechst has announced the sale of its paint business Herberts to US chemicals firm DuPont for US $1.9 billion. The combined coatings businesses of the two firms will become the third largest coatings concern in the world, with annual sales of more than US $3.7 billion and hold 30 per cent of the global market in automotive paints. The deal requires regulatory approval but neither company foresees any competition hurdles. Over three-quarters of Herbert's sales are in Europe and a similar proportion of DuPont's activities are timed towards the US.

BREAST CANCER DRUG: The first drug known to prevent breast cancer has been approved for sale by the US regulators. The product, to be sold as Nolva4ex by UK firm Zeneca, will be available in the US soon. Generically known as tamoxifen, the drughas been used for breast cancer treatment for over 20 years. Recent trials by the US National Cancer Institute showed it could reduce by 44 per cent the chances of high risk women developing cancer.

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