The drugs entrepreneur, Dr Chris Evans, and the International Biotechnology Trust have merged to create a new investment vehicle with funds in excess of £150m. Evan's company, Merlin Ventures, will take over the running of the trust from Rothschild Asset Management, which recently announced its withdrawal from biotechnology.
The head of Rothschild's biotechnology unit, Jeremy Curnock Cook, will be leaving the bank to join Merlin Ventures as chief executive, with Evans as chairman. AstraZeneca was born out of a £48b Anglo-Swedish merger last week.
The newly merged drugs giant is planning to ride out expected loss of sales from Losec and Zestril, the big selling drugs that are approaching patent expiry. The merger was completed as a report underlined growing pressure for European companies to merge in the face of weakening performance in the world league tables compared to the US.
A report from the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority showed that complaints against pharmaceutical companies for breaches of the voluntary advertising code of practice remained high in 1998. Since the authority was established in 1993, it has dealt with more than 640 complaints. Complaints ranged from overstating a product's properties to over-luxurious hospitality for doctors.