Pharmaceutical SMEs warned to act fast to untangle payroll data to meet pensions auto-enrolment

Many of the country’s small employers approaching their pensions auto-enrolment staging dates are in danger of missing deadlines, warns Lighthouse Group, one of the UK’s leading financial advisers.

Tens of thousands of pharmaceutical SMEs and micro employers are now starting to grapple with the complexities of employer pension schemes for the first time. The Pensions Regulator recently stated that only 29 per cent of those staging in 2016 were fully aware of their date, while only 46 per cent staging in 2017 were aware of their responsibilities.

Pensions expert Roger Sanders, OBE, cautions business owners to familiarise themselves with the requirements, and assess their business as soon as possible, even if their staging date is two years away.

Roger, Managing Director of Lighthouse Group Employee Benefit, comments: “Employers’ auto-enrolment duties go far beyond setting up a pension scheme and enrolling staff in it. They must assess their workforce, work out who to enrol and decide how much they and their employees will contribute. They also need to keep records of all this information, together with any changes, all of which represents a significant amount of work for smaller employers.

“However, we are finding many businesses in pharmacy lack the accurate, up-to-date information on employees vital to completing enrolment smoothly. Firms that leave their enrolment preparation too late will be in for a shock when they discover years of payroll and employee data needs to be sorted before they can properly begin.”

Lighthouse advises that employers who use a payroll bureau should ask whether their systems and software are geared up to deal with auto-enrolment, assessing if they can extract needed information easily, in a suitable format, and on a regular basis.

A payroll bureau generally holds information such as an employee’s full name, salary/wages and National Insurance number, but may not have the employee’s address and other contact details such as email – which is often held by the employer. However, under auto-enrolment all this information needs to be brought together each time an employee is paid, whether monthly, fortnightly or weekly.

SMEs should begin the process at least six months before their staging date, starting with checking what data their payroll function holds and how to export it, as well as what information is missing and must be tracked down. At three months before the staging date, businesses must have a process to collate all the information needed in a suitable format and on a timely basis. Data must be in a standardised format and should cover all employees, even if they will not be enrolled automatically.


UK-based pharma company acquires US immunotherapy group

Mallinkcrodt, a UK-based manufacturer of speciality drugs and medical equipment, has acquired US immunotherapy treatment group Therakos for $1.33 billion.

The perimeters of the deal, through American private equity firm Gores Group, allow Mallincrkrodt complete access to Therkos’ specialised cell therapy platform, designed for patients who aren’t responded to any other forms of treatment. It was approved for the palliative treatment of the skin manifestations of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL). This deal follows the company’s $2.3 billion acquisition of Ikaria in March.

The move offers further room for expansion across hospitals, with multimodal surgical pain management and critical care respiratory therapies in neonatal intensive care units. This will also include new therapies that incorporate, utilise and encourage the patient’s own immune system to fight disease.

Mark Trudeau, Mallinckrodt Chief Executive, comments: “Therakos is, quite simply, another excellent fit for Mallinckrodt. [It] demonstrates our ongoing commitment to building a strong, highly profitable hospital growth business as we build and diversity [the] Speciality Brands portfolio.”

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2015.


New collaboration to develop small molecule immuno-oncology treatments

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Sanofi, Evotec and Apeiron Biologics have entered into collaboration to develop innovative small molecule-based immuno-oncology treatments.

Sanofi has announced that it has entered a research collaboration and license agreement with Evotec and Apeiron Biologics to discover and develop first-in-class small molecule-based immuno-oncology therapies. The treatment aims to treat solid and hematological cancers by enhancing the anti-tumour activity of the human immune system.

Victoria Richon, Vice-President and Head of Cancer Research, Discovery and Early Development for Sanofi , says: “Immuno-oncology has emerged as a particularly promising field to create potentially curative treatment options for many cancer patients. Partnering with Evotec and Apeiron Biologics will significantly advance our shared vision toward realizing the full value of these innovative small molecule treatments.”

Based on Evotec’s technological expertise and Apeiron Biologics’ experience with immunology, the new collaboration will focus on the identification of small molecules and their targets to develop next-generation therapies in immuno-oncology. These treatments are expected to complement currently available checkpoint inhibitors. The collaboration is based on the initial successful outcome of a phenotypic high level screening of potential compounds for development that was commissioned by Apeiron Biologics and conducted by Evotec. Under the collaboration, Sanofi has the option of screening its own compound libraries to identify new small molecule candidates for development.

Dr. Werner Lanthaler, Chief Executive Officer of Evotec, comments: “We are pleased and proud that our joint efforts in immuno-oncology with Apeiron have led to this partnership with Sanofi. The collaboration is a great example of an efficient translation from early-stage research to pharma development.”

Dr. Hans Loibner, Chief Executive Officer of Apeiron Biologics, adds: “It is encouraging to see that our work, even at an early stage, can attract interest from one of the world’s leading, large biopharmaceutical companies. We look forward to applying all the different skills and resources bundled in this collaboration for the benefit of this treatment concept and ultimately for the benefit of patients.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Sanofi will have sole responsibility for all development, regulatory, commercial and manufacturing activities from any of the products resulting from the collaboration. Sanofi will support two years of funding for Evotec and Apeiron to conduct the research program, which will include potential early success milestone payments. Upon continuation, as decided by Sanofi, Evotec will be entitled to receive further development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments, which could total more than €200 million, and royalties on net sales.

Photo credit: Daniel Rousselot /Interlinks Image