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US approves new anaemia drug – Seroquel patent row continues – And Dow partners with Oz university
PHARMACEUTICAL – US authorities have approved Omontys (peginesatide) injections for treating anaemia in dialysis patients with chronic kidney disease. They say that this peginesatide is the first new drug in this area to be approved in the US since 2001. Peginesatide is an erythropoiesis-stimulating agent: it encourages the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells so that fewer transfusions are needed. Peginesatide was developed by US drug company Affymax.
PHARMACEUTICAL – The legal tug of war over the right to sell generic versions of Seroquel (quetiapine) tablets continues. In the latest round, a US court has ruled that the patent for the extended release formulation, sold by AstraZeneca as Seroquel XR tablets, is valid and has been infringed by several generic manufacturers. AstraZeneca is now facing generic erosion of its blockbuster Seroquel brand – the patent for quetiapine expired a few days ago. But the patent for the Seroquel XR formulation, which patients take less frequently compared with the original formulation, offers the possibility of maintaining some exclusivity until 2017. Only a week ago, AstraZeneca lost out in a UK court, which ruled the patent invalid. The Seroquel brand is an important part of the AstraZeneca portfolio – it generated $4.3 billion (£2.7 billion) in global sales in 2011.
CHEMICAL – BASF is ‘not satisfied’ with the definition of a nanomaterial proposed by the EU, according to Andreas Kreimeyer, research executive director at the company. Speaking at a press conference in Ludwigshafen, Germany, he said: ‘With this definition, even sand on the beach is nanotechnology.’ The definition was previously criticised by the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic), which said that the size limit would be impractical and lead to higher costs and less efficient use of resources.
CHEMICAL – Dow is to partner with the University of Queensland in Australia to create the Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation. Dow will provide $10 million towards the endeavour over the next six years for research into global issues of energy, water and sustainability. It says this is the first time it has signed such an agreement with an Australian university.
PHARMACEUTICAL – The pharma industry spends more than €40 million (£33 million) per year on EU lobbying, according to a report from two campaign organisations. In contrast, non-governmental public health organisations spend just €3.4 million per year. Corporate Europe Observatory and Health Action International looked at the entries made by pharmaceutical companies and their representatives in the EU lobby transparency register – a voluntary register of activities. The figure would be much higher – closer to €90 million – if the register were compulsory they say. In addition, the organisations estimate that 220 drug industry lobbyists are active in the EU.