Published: Wednesday 15 December 1993

WITH WESTERN governments trying to cut health-care costs and consequently, the pharmaceuticals market becoming more competitive, many companies including Glaxo are keen to move into untapped markets. Glaxo chief executive Richard Sykes insists that to be successful, the company must develop "innovative medicines".

"Every week, 3,000 genes are being identified. And we know more and more about cell life and death," says Sykes. Scientists can use this information to identify target sites for drug development. Sandoz Pharma and Roussel Uclaf have already moved in that direction and have agreed to invest almost $60 million in separate deals with small US companies for conceiving and designing drugs atom by atom -- a new approach to drug design.

THE LONDON-based Wellcome Trust -- once known primarily for funding research in tropical diseases and the history of medicine -- is now dispensing funds to scientists involved in molecular biology, brain research and genetics.

This has come as a shot in the arm for the cash-starved British medical research and development establishment, as the government has failed to keep pace with rising costs.

CHEMICAL companies in the US have cut their toxic output faster than expected, causing a collapse of toxic waste disposal prices. To counter this effect, companies that handle waste are cutting down on jobs. WMX Technologies has already announced it will cut 1,200 jobs and Safety-Kleen has followed its lead by announcing an unspecified cut in jobs in the fourth quarter of the year.

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