06 March 2000 00:00 [Source: ICB Americas]Nycomed Amersham, a leading provider of chemicals, biotechnology products and equipment for research into genes, proteins and new drugs, plans to become more of a discoverer of knowledge as well as a supplier of the means of acquiring it.
The company is also considering a number of options for its biotech-supply division, Amersham Pharmacia Biotech, which could include a public offering of shares in the operation. Analysts see few synergies between that division and diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy products, the company's other business.
Last week, during a presentation on the company's annual results, Bill Castell, Nycomed Amersham's chief executive, told analysts in London that the company wants to contribute more to the understanding of genetics.
"In 2000, we will focus on maximizing the value of the significant technology base we have built," he said. "We are well placed to play an important part in the new gene economy."
Last year, Nycomed's total sales rose 14 percent to £1.3 billion ($2 billion). Its imaging sales increased 9 percent to £729 million, and its sales of biotech supplies climbed 21 percent to £543 million.
In biotech supplies, sales of laboratory research products, which account for 45 percent of the division's sales, dropped 4 percent, reflecting a decline in demand for radiochemicals and scanner products.
Sales of drug discovery products in genomics, pharmacogenomics, proteomics and drug screening rose 37 percent. In genomics, Nycomed has moved from radiochemicals and non-radioactive alternatives to advanced DNA analysis systems using capillary technology.
"We want to make the provision of knowledge in genomics part of our business," says a Nycomed official. "We are already involved in research in the US into the discovery of functional genes and have patents on the use of previously undiscovered genes."
Any changes to Amersham Pharmacia Biotech will have to be supported by Pharmacia & Upjohn, which has a 45 percent share in the business.
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