Federal center hopes to spur drug research

Federal officials concerned about the slowing pace of new drugs coming out of the pharmaceutical industry have decided to start a billion-dollar government drug development center to help create medicines.

The New York Times reported on its Web site Saturday about the new effort that comes as many large drug makers, unable to find enough new drugs, are trimming back research.

Promising discoveries in illnesses such as depression and Parkinson's that once would have led to clinical trials are instead going unexplored because companies are not inclined and do not have the money to undertake the effort.

The paper reports that initial financing of the government's new drug center is relatively small compared with the $45.8 billion that the industry estimates it invested in research in 2009. The cost of bringing a single drug to market can exceed $1 billion, according to some estimates.

The new center, to be called the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, will do as much research as it needs to so that it can attract drug company investment.  

- AP 

Dubai World's port division defends finances

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- DP World officials defended the Dubai port operator's finances Sunday, saying the company is under no pressure to raise cash even as a sister firm announced plans to seek new terms on its debt.

Executives at the cargo handler said last month's move to slash its stake in Australian ports was solely a strategic decision meant to shift emphasis to fast-growing emerging markets. They dismissed suggestions that DP World might soon need to retool its own debt terms.

DP World sold the bulk of its Australian businesses to a Citi investment fund in late December for $1.5 billion. It continues to manage the ports in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Fremantle.  

- AP