A Grapevine service announcement Pay attention: Holuhraun, still spewing lava. Bárðarbunga, still sinking.

American Company Buys deCODE

Published December 11, 2012

The American biopharmaceutical company Amgen has bought deCODE Genetics for $415 million.
In its time, deCODE Genetics was one of Iceland’s hottest rising stars in the financial world. Making headlines for holding a genetic and medical database of thousands of Icelanders, it was the first company to be listed on NASDAQ. Although opening at about $30 per share, it soon plummeted to almost nothing, and declared bankruptcy in November 2009.
Despite this languishing state of affairs, it seems the company was still able to draw the interest of investors:

The biotechnology giant Amgen, seeking to bolster its drug discovery efforts, said Monday that it would pay $415 million to acquire deCODE Genetics, a gene-hunting firm based in Iceland and known for its headline-grabbing discoveries linking genetic variations to disease. The all-cash deal will give Amgen, based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., access to Reykjavik, Iceland-based deCODE’s technology. DeCODE, which is privately held, has had trouble building a sustainable business, and it filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009. It was bought out of bankruptcy in 2010 by Saga Investments, a group led by two venture capital companies, Polaris Venture Partners and Arch Venture Partners.

Björn Zoega, the director of Landspitali national hospital, told RÚV that he believes the buy-out will have a positive effect on Icelandic genetic research in particular, and on medical care as a whole.
Sean Harper, the CMO of Amgen, told reporters that deCODE will continue doing the business it always has been in Iceland, and that contrary to anyone losing their jobs, it is hoped that there will be more hires.



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Mentally Ill Inmate Kept In Solitary For 2 Months

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An inmate with mental health issues has been in solitary confinement at Litla Hraun maximum security prison for the last 2 months, reports RÚV. The man has in the past spent years in the psychiatric ward of Iceland’s National University Hospital. Two years ago however, he was deemed mentally competent enough to serve out the remainder of his – undisclosed – sentence at Litla Hraun. The prison withheld therapy from the inmate – who was diagnosed with psychopathy – for a year and a half before granting him treatment this past spring. Recently the inmate began refusing to take his medication and as

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Defence Attorney: Facebook “Likes” Constitute Impartiality

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A lawyer defending former Interior Minister assistant Gísli Freyr Valdórsson has asked the court to remove the prosecutor for “Liking” a news story pertaining to the trial. Gísli Freyr Valdórsson, a former assistant to Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, was charged with breach of confidentiality and relieved of his position last August. He is now on trial in Reykjavík District Court and today, RÚV reports, the defence has offered a unique argument as to why the prosecutor, Helgi Magnús Gunnarsson, is unfit to participate in the trial. Ólafur Garðarsson, Gísli Freyr’s defence attorney, argued in court today that

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Iceland: A Good Place To Grow Old

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A new report from Global Age Watch puts Iceland in 7th place amongst the best countries in the world to grow old. According to the report, Norway is officially the best country in the world to grow older, while Afghanistan is the worst. Iceland has held its position in the top ten due to the life expectancy and financial security, amongst other factors. Icelanders aged 60 years old today can expect to live another 25 years; 17.8 of those in good health. 100% of the population over 65 receives some kind of pension, with only 1.6% living in poverty. In

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“Illska” Nominated For Nordic Council Literature Prize

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Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl’s book Illska (“Evil”) has been chosen to be one of Iceland’s entries for the Nordic Council Literature Prize. Eiríkur shares the nomination with novelist Auður Jónsdóttir for her book, Ósjálfrátt (“Unintended”). Illska also bears the honour of having already won the Icelandic Literary Prize in 2012 and The Book Merchant’s Prize. Illska is a 500+ page novel about Agnes Lukauskas, an Icelander of Lithuanian descent, and her love triangle with Ómar Arnarson and Arnór Þórðarson. The story spans decades, through the height of World War 2, to Iceland’s recognition of Lithuania as a sovereign nation in 1991,

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News In Brief: Late September

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 Fortunately for us, the Holurhraun eruption (discussed here and here) has not produced airplane-choking ash clouds nor led to devastating glacial flooding. There have, however, been continuous plumes  of sulphur dioxide wafting through mostly North and East Iceland from the site of the Holuhraun  eruption, giving police another reason to cordon off a large swath of Iceland from public access. Not that  this hasn’t stopped a few idiots from blithely driving into an eruption site anyway. New forms of natural  selection ahoy! Minister of Health Kristján Þór Júlíusson is exploring the legalisation of drugs, going so far as to  agree

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Arca To Co-Produce New Björk Album

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The follow-up to Björk’s 2011 album ‘Biophilia’ will be co-produced by Brooklyn based Venezuelan artist Arca, reports Pitchfork Media. Arca has previously collaborated with Kanye West on his album Yeezus and FKA Twigs on EP2. Björk’s last album Biophilia has far surpassed the boundaries of a simple studio album and by embracing new technology has found its way into Nordic school curriculums and been the inspiration for a film which recently premiered at Manchester International Festival.

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