Concern has been raised by the likelihood that the French government may be planning to prop up the French biotechnology company, Genset, the largest biotechnology company in Europe.
A number of French geneticists and some stock-market analysts suspect that a FF 1.5b (US $240m) boost to genome research under consideration by the French government could effectively be a hidden subsidy to the ailing French company. Shares in Genset have fallen sharply over the last twelve months, prompted largely by market anticipation of the recent creation of a private-public sector consortium that would map and make freely available the variations in the human genetic code involved in common human diseases.
Glaxo Wellcome has reported flat profits after four months of weak sales in the US. The pharmaceuticals group blames the fall in US sales on reduced demand from wholesalers which stocked up on medicines at the end of last year because of impending price rises.
British Biotech, the former flagship of the biotechnology industry in the UK, is holding merger talks with rival biotech groups in an attempt to reverse the company's recent turbulent fortunes. Talks have been initiated with biotech groups involved in cancer treatment. Chiroscience is understood to be among the companies involved in talks.