PHARMACEUTICALS

Advancis to Start New Trial on Antibiotic

Advancis Pharmaceutical, a Germantown maker of infectious-disease treatments, said it will begin a new clinical trial for its antibiotic Pulsys and expects to be able to fund clinical trials and operations into early 2007.

The company said it will begin enrolling patients into a late-stage clinical trial in the fourth quarter to see how well its Pulsys amoxicillin drug treats strep throat infections and tonsillitis in adults and adolescents. Following an unsuccessful clinical trial, the company is extending the treatment time in the new study to 10 days from seven.

Advancis also improved its forecast for full-year results, forecasting a loss of $1.10 to $1.30 per share, compared with a previously projected loss of $1.25 to $1.50 per share. Revenue is expected to reach $16 million to $18 million, helped by the sale of the U.S. rights for the company's Keflex anti-infective drug.

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Danaher Sells All Leica Shares

Danaher, the maker of Craftsman hand tools, said it sold all of its 95,000 shares of Leica Geosystems, a move that suggests the District-based company may be walking away from a $791 million bid for the Swiss manufacturer of surveying equipment, analysts said.

Danaher confirmed Wednesday that it does not plan to increase its offer in response to a rival, higher bid from Hexagon of Sweden. Danaher, which wants Leica in order to further a strategy of expanding in technology that is more profitable than hand tools, has said its bid is worth more because little of Hexagon's offer is cash.

Judge Hears Arguments on US Airways Plan

A bankruptcy judge heard final arguments on Arlington-based US Airways Group's plan to emerge from Chapter 11 protection and merge with America West Airlines. The largest remaining objection to the plan comes from unions angered by a proposal to pay $12 million in severance to 11 top US Airways executives who will not be offered jobs with the merged airline.

Union leaders have asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stephen S. Mitchell to scale back the severance pay and require executives to forfeit some of it if they find new jobs. They argued that the payments are unfair in light of the pay cuts and layoffs that union workers have endured over the past three years that have put the company in position to emerge from bankruptcy protection.

Mitchell is set to rule on the severance package and several minor issues this morning, after which he is expected to confirm US Airways' reorganization plan, the final step in allowing the airline to emerge from bankruptcy and merge with America West.

ENERGY

USEC Names Chief Executive

USEC, the Bethesda company that provides enriched uranium for nuclear power plants, named John K. Welch president and chief executive. Welch is a former executive vice president of the Marine Systems Group at General Dynamics. James R. Mellor, who remains the company's chairman, had been serving as chief executive since December. USEC's previous chief executive, William H. "Nick" Timbers Jr., departed abruptly in December, and the company acknowledged soon after that it was in a dispute with Timbers about whether he was terminated without cause.

Constellation Joins Nuclear Plant Venture

Constellation Energy Group, the Baltimore-based owner of three nuclear power plants, will join a venture called UniStar Nuclear with France's Areva to develop new reactors in the United States. Areva, the world's largest reactor maker, is competing to have the first new U.S. nuclear power plant to be licensed since 1978. UniStar will form ventures with U.S. utility owners to build new plants, Constellation Executive Vice President Michael J. Wallace said. Most funding for UniStar will come from Areva.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.