PHARMACEUTICAL: Brilinque is ‘cost-effective’ says AZ

UK pharma major AstraZeneca (AZ) says that health economics data from the Plato trial shows treating acute coronary syndrome (ACS) patients with ticagrelor is more cost-effective than treating them with generic clopidogrel.

AZ markets anti-clotting drug ticagrelor as Brilinque in the EU, and it has applied for marketing approval in the US under the name Brilinta.

ACS patients treated for one year with ticagrelor and aspirin were projected to gain an additional 0.13 quality adjusted life years (QALYs) at a cost of between €2350 (£2060) and €5700 per QALY – compared with patients treated with generic clopidogrel and aspirin.

The analysis will be published in Value in Health, the journal of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research.

Sanofi-Aventis markets clopidogrel as Plavix, which made 2010 sales of €2 billion for the company. Sales of Plavix are falling due to competition from generic versions of the drug. 

PHARMACEUTICAL: EMA criticised for trial data row

The European Medicines Agency (EMA), which issues drug licences in the EU, is taking some flak for having refused to give out unpublished trial data.

In 2007, Scientists from the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Denmark asked if they could take a look at data on anti-obesity drugs orlistat and rimonabant. But the EMA refused, citing commercial confidentiality.

In June 2010, this decision was criticised by Nikiforos Diamandouros, the European Ombudsman, and the EMA released the data to the researchers in February.

In November 2010, the EMA said it would widen public access to documents, including trial reports and protocols. But the researchers now say the ‘inconsistent’ position of the agency needs changing. ‘The EMA put protecting the profits of the drug companies ahead of protecting the lives and welfare of patients,’ they say. ‘The EMA should be promoting access to full information that will aid rational decision making.’

Orlistat is marketed as Xenical by Roche and as Alli, an over-the-counter product, by GlaxoSmithKline. The EMA recommended against use of rimonabant – marketed by Sanofi (then Sanofi-Aventis) as Accomplia – in October 2008 because of links to psychiatric problems.

(P C Gøtzsche and A W Jørgensen, Br. Med. J., 2011; DOI: 10.1136/bmj.d2686)

PHARMACEUTICAL: Sanofi-Aventis shortens name

French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis has decided it’s time to radically overhaul its corporate image, and officially changed its name to Sanofi. The shareholders approved the change at the shareholder meeting on 6 May.

To compliment the new name, it has a flashy new logo: the Bird of Hope. Check out this (sexy/funky/cool) video about it.

PHARMACEUTICAL: GSK and AZ make UK uni investment

Two pharma giants in the UK are chipping in £5 million each to help the University of Manchester build a research centre for the study of inflammatory diseases. What will they get in return? The benefit of putting their scientists into collaborations with university scientists. Plus, they’ll get some say on the ‘strategic priorities’.

The Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research will open later this year. 

GREENTECH: US investment in German production

The US is investing heavily in photovoltaic and wind power, and German companies will be the main beneficiaries, according to a new report from analysis firm Roland Berger and the German American Chambers of Commerce (GACC).

Is the GACC best placed for objectivity? I wouldn’t like to say. But there are some interesting numbers nevertheless.

Based on a survey of 140 US companies and German firms with subsidiaries in the US, the report found that more than half of greentech companies think sales will grow by more than 10 per cent per year over the next five years. In addition, 43 per cent expect to increase their workforces by over 10 per cent per year over the same period.

CHEMICAL: Alimentary amphibians?

I don’t suppose inventing peppy neologisms to use in marketing campaigns is easy. The good ones grab your attention instantly and irresistibly, while conveying something of the underlying point the company wants to make. But most aren’t good. Indeed, sometimes there’s one so bad that it goes full circle and succeeds in grabbing your attention for all the wrong reasons. 

Here’s a corker from BASF. It’s a new approach to nutrition. So they’ve gone with: Newtrition. Now, let’s put to one side the crudity of simply contracting into one word the words ‘new’ and ‘nutrition’. (And the way that contraction is rendered inert by it being pronounced the same as one of those original words.)

Let’s focus instead on that brilliant amphibian reference. Newtrition. What’s that? Food supplements derived from newts? On the other hand, the tagline is: Eat. Feel. Live. So maybe Newtrition is a holistic diet based on newt behaviour. Eat (bugs and grubs). Feel (damp and slippery). Live (in a pond).

I guess it’s no more ridiculous than the ‘master cleanse’ diet.

Andrew Turley

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