Nycomed of Denmark has officially launched the combined group following its 4.22 billion euro acquisition of Germany’s Altana Pharma and claims that the integration process of the firms has begun in earnest.

The Danish firm says that the team charged with making these important steps has been fully installed and country managers have been appointed. Nycomed will have a presence in some 50 countries and the Altana purchase has created an overlap in 14 states.

Nycomed spokesman Christoffer Jensen told PharmaTimes World News that the areas of overlap are in Europe and include the big markets of Germany, France, Italy and the UK and the impact of the reorganisation is expected to be limited. Some job losses are inevitable but Mr Jensen declined to mention any ballpark figure, saying that a case-by-case approach is being adopted and it is far too early to mention any specific figures. He added that the reorganisation should be completed before the summer and the combined group’s move to its new corporate headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, is expected to be in place by around May.

Nycomed chief executive Hakan Bjorklund said that “this is the most exciting phase of our company’s history so far,” but noted that “while we are progressing on schedule, we are only in the first phase of defining [its] future shape of the company.” As for the future, Altana’s gastrointestinal drug pantoprazole will be the principal growth driver of revenues, at least in the near-term but patent expiry in its most important markets in 2009/10 will create something of a sales gap.

Nycomed also noted that it launched a number of products in several European markets in 2006, including Matrifen (fentanyl patch), a treatment for severe chronic opioid-sensitive pain and Preotact (parathyroid hormone) for osteoporosis. Altana’s Alvesco (ciclesonide), an inhaled steroid for asthma, was launched in major European markets, as well as in Brazil and Canada, though it got off to a fairly disappointing start, adding just 12 million euros to Altana’s nine-month 2006 sales. However hopes are high for an intranasal formulation, Omnaris, which was approved for allergic rhinitis in the USA in October.

Mr Jensen also said that Nycomed is enthusiastic about the prospects for Altana’s respiratory drug Daxas (roflumilast), although a marketing application in Europe was withdrawn in 2005 after consultation with the European Medicines Agency.