Praxair and Advance Research Chemicals form alliance
Praxair Inc. (Danbury, CT) and Advance Research Chemicals (ARC) have formed a strategic alliance to develop, manufacture and market tungsten hexafluoride (WF6) for the semiconductor industry. ARC will exclusively manufacture a high-purity WF6 for Praxair to market and distribute to semiconductor manufacturers worldwide. The new plant, located in Catoosa, OK, is currently capable of producing approximately 10,000 kg annually and has the capability of expanding to more than 40,000 kg per year.—LJB

Mydata builds new U.S. corporate headquarters
Mydata automation Inc., manufacturer of market surface mount assembly equipment, is expanding its North American operations and moving to a new facility located 15 miles from its present location in Peabody, MA. Reportedly, the new corporate headquarters will provide the company with increased space to 26,700 square feet accommodating its growing service, sales and training requirements. Johnson Building & Construction Inc. along with First Fabricators Co. is building the facility in cooperation with Ipswich Cooperative Bank.—LJB

Forma Scientific changes name
Forma Scientific Inc. has changed its name to Thermo Forma as part of a new corporate identity strategy initiated by its parent company, Thermo Electron Corp. The program is designed to establish a strong affiliation between Thermo Electron and its 80-plus globally recognized brands, including Forma, and to promote Thermo Electron as a single, unified company.—LJB

Durect constructs manufacturing facility
Durect Corp. is constructing a commercial manufacturing facility that is expected to meet production needs for Phase III clinical trials currently planned for late this year and commercial market supply for its lead product, Duros sufentanil. The facility will comprise about 8000 square feet and will be located in Cupertino, CA. It will house a state-of-the-art cleanroom space and an advanced manufacturing process capable of supporting clean assembly and aseptic filling operations.—LJB

Feders acquires Eubank Mfg.
Melcor Corp., a subsidiary of Fedders Corp. (Liberty Corner, NJ), has acquired Eubank Manufacturing Enterprises Inc. (Longview, TX). Melcor, along with its subsidiary Sun Air Conditioning Inc., is the telecommunications arm of Fedders and specializes in the production of semiconductor-based thermoelectric cooling modules used to control lasers in fiber-optic communications and cooling for telecommunications enclosures. Eubank also produces cooling systems for controlling the environment in cellular tower transmission equipment rooms.—LJB

Proposed poultry drug ban challenged
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has filed a request from Bayer Corp. (Kansas City, MO) to hold a hearing on a proposed ban of the drug, Baytril, a powerful antibiotic that doctors consider a valuable weapon against food poisoning and other serious infections in humans.

The FDA believes widespread use by livestock farmers is one reason the drug is growing resistant to some germs because when bacteria gains repeated exposure to an antibiotic, they learn to outsmart the bugs. Humans then pick up the resistant bacteria when they eat or handle contaminated meat.

Since the mid-1990s, when farmers started using fluoroquinolones, like Baytril, to fight infections in poultry, researchers have seen the drugs become less powerful against campylobacter, the leading bacterial cause of food-borne illness in humans. Campylobacter infects about 2 million Americans per year. The infections can be life-threatening to the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. Testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found about 18 percent of campylobacter samples were resistant to fluoroquinolones in 1999, up from 13 percent in 1998.

Bayer, however, maintains that campylobacter resistance was not increasing among chickens. The company and the National Chicken Council, an industry group, also said that fluoroquinolones were the most effective drugs for fighting infections that can wipe out half or more of an entire flock.

When the FDA proposed banning Baytril and Abbott Laboratories' (ABT.N) Sara Flox last October, Abbott immediately withdrew its drug.—MAD

Intel invests big in Massachusetts
With a total investment of $1 billion, Intel is planning to expand its operations at Fab 17, which is located in Hudson, MA. At that facility, the chipmaker hopes to finish its fourth module/cleanroom and purchase equipment.

The fourth module is expected to cost some $250 million to complete and, when completed, the facility will have a total of 120,000 square feet of cleanroom space. With the remaining $750 million, Intel will upgrade its tooling and equipment to accommodate 0.13-micron process technologies. At the Hudson plant, Intel manufactures logic chips, including Celeron, Pentium III and StrongARM, with potential plans to produce Pentium 4 chips.

“In the 2H01 we will spend money on 0.13 equipment, and expect [to ship] the first products using 0.13 micron in late 2H01,” says Intel corporate spokesman Charles Mulloy. Intel broke the news of the Fab 17 expansion just days after it announced that its Irish facility would be a 300 mm fab instead of the planned 200 mm. Fab 24 is located in Leixlip, Ireland. When Fab 24 was slated for 200 mm Intel expected to go online during the 2H01, that date has now been pushed back to 2H02.

The move to 300 mm in Ireland was surprising to many industry experts, but, Intel believes, in the long run it will allow them to double its production and reduce costs by 30 percent. “There was some panic last week when we said we'd decreased the amount of 200 mm equipment we'd be buying, but at Fab 22 & 17 we are still producing 200 mm,” Mulloy says.

On the 300 mm front, Intel is pushing forward and expects to run first silicon through its development facility, located in Oregon, at the beginning of 2001.

In other 300 mm news, Infineon Technologies, Munich, Germany, says it plans to equip its Richmond, VA, facility with 300 mm equipment. The facility, formerly known as White Oak Semiconductor, will begin operations at the end of the 1Q02.—MV

Diodes acquires FabTech manufacturing plant, cleanroom
Diodes Inc. (West Lake, CA), a manufacturer and supplier of discrete semiconductors, has acquired FabTech Inc., a 5-inch wafer foundry specializing in Schottky products.

FabTech operates out of a 70,000-sq.-ft. state-of-the-art manufacturing facility that includes a 16,000-square-foot cleanroom in Lee's Summit, Missouri.

According to company officials, the acquisition of the plant is part of Diodes' plan to become a total solution provider for discrete semiconductors, with a focus on the communications, computing, electronics and automotive industries. The deal will also enable Diodes to increase research and development initiatives, primarily in the areas of miniaturization, integrated discretes and developing chip-scale discretes.

“The addition of FabTech will enable us to accelerate our drive into higher-margin, proprietary product lines and will make a significant contribution toward our goal of positioning Diodes as a vertically integrated manufacturer and supplier of discrete semiconductors at the forefront of next-generation discrete technology,” says C.H Chen, president and CEO of Diodes.

FabTech was acquired from Lite-On Power Semiconductor Corporation for around $25 million, including the assumption of $19 million in debt, and a cash payment to LPSC of approximately $6 million. LPSC owns 38 percent of Diodes' outstanding shares.—JVP

Chip industry second safest
A study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor (Washington, DC) indicates that the chip industry was the second safest, with 2.2 injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time workers, the lowest level the semiconductor industry has ever achieved, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA; San Jose, CA). The latest Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses listed telephone and telegraph apparatus manufacturers as the safest industry, with 1.5 cases of injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time workers.—MAD

Air Liquide jacks up prices
Air Liquide America Corp. (Houston) has increased prices for oxygen, nitrogen, argon, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, helium and all other pure and mixed gas merchant products in liquid and gaseous form. The increase addresses the escalating costs of production and distribution of bulk and compressed gases for all customers, including those customers with industrial, medical, food & beverage, electronics and specialty gas end use applications. Most product prices will be increased by 10 to 25 percent.—MAD

Fruit salad recalled
The Salad Factory (Marietta, GA) voluntarily recalled packages of its “Cool Fruit” salad because it could possibly be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The salad is packaged in 10-ounce and 16- ounce plastic containers. The lot affected by the recall was distributed only to Winn-Dixie stores, according to The Salad Factory.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture discovered the contamination recently during a routine sampling.—MAD

Ham recalled
More than 10,000 pounds of ham sent to Kentucky and Tennessee is being recalled because officials fear it could be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The meat was produced by Harper's Country Ham in December and distributed to grocery stores and restaurants in the two states as well as via mail order to customers throughout the United States under the Harper's Country Store and Wertz's Country Store brand names.

Although there have been no reports of any illnesses connected to the ham, listeria contamination was found during a routine microbiological sampling.

All products being recalled are labeled “EST 2040” inside the Agriculture Department's seal of inspection and bear a production date code of 0346.

Nearly 17 million pounds of ready-to-eat turkey products were voluntarily recalled by Waco, TX-based Cargill Turkey Products earlier in December because of possible Listeria contamination.—JVP

Qusion breaks ground
Newly formed telecom component manufacturer Qusion Technologies has broken ground on a new manufacturing facility that will include a 4,000-square-foot ISO Class 6 (Class 1,000) cleanroom.

The 33,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, which will be located in South Brunswick, NJ, will also house an ISO Class 5 (Class 100) photolithographic cleanroom. The company hopes the new facility will help it to increase network speed and reduce integration and management costs for system developers.—JVP

NewBiotics unveils Trojan Horse
NewBiotics Inc., a developer of drugs targeted against cancer and infectious disease, was recently granted U.S. Patent #6,159,706 for its “Trojan Horse” technology for killing antibiotic-resistant bacteria using the pathogen's own resistance enzyme to release a self-destructive toxin hidden within a medicine with minimal toxicity to the patient.

The new patent forms the cornerstone for NewBiotics' Enzyme Catalyzed Therapeutic Activation (ECTA) technology applied to the problem of drug resistance in both cancer and infectious disease—especially hospital-acquired, or nosocomial, infections.

The World Health Organization estimates antibiotic-resistant bacteria account for up to 60 percent of nosocomial infections. Each year, more than 9 million worldwide, and approximately 2 million patients in the U.S. acquire a nosocomial infection. Particularly susceptible are patients undergoing invasive procedures or treatments. In many cases the only effective treatment for these infections is experimental and toxic.—MAD


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