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Takeda buys gout drug company for $800m – US approves new imaging drug – And EMA supports trial data access
PHARMACEUTICAL – Japanese drug maker Takeda has signed an $800 million (£500 million) deal to buy privately owned US company URL Pharma. URL Pharma is a pharmaceutical company with 2011 calendar year revenues of nearly $600 million. The top URL brand is Colcrys (colchicine) for treating and preventing gout, a condition caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood leading to the formation of crystals in joints, tendons and surrounding tissues. Colcrys products generated sales of over $430 million in 2011. URL employs about 500 people.
PHARMACEUTICAL – A new drug for use in positron emission tomography (PET) to help evaluate whether a person has Alzheimer’s disease has been approved in the US. Amyvid injections contain florbetapir F-18, which binds to the amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease and contains radioactive fluorine-18. Clinicians can use these injections to measure the density of amyloid plaques in the brain using PET. Amyloid plaques are clumps of abnormal β-amyloid protein. A negative Amyvid scan indicates few plaques and reduces the likelihood that any observed cognitive impairment is a result of Alzheimer’s disease. The drug was developed by Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, which was bought by Eli Lilly in December 2010 in deal worth up to $800 million.
CHEMICAL – DuPont has opened a $40 million plant genetics R&D site in the US. The site – in Johnston, Iowa – will create 400 jobs focused on the development of new genetically modified crop varieties. DuPont says that it will invest $10 billion globally in R&D focused on food, agriculture and nutrition by the end of 2020.
PHARMACEUTICAL – The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has given its support for free and public access to all clinical trial data associated with approved treatments. In a perspective published in the journal PLoS Medicine, regulators at the EMA say that it is ‘neither desirable nor realistic to maintain the status quo of limited availability of regulatory trials data’. Clinical trial data should not be thought of as ‘commercial confidential information’ and drug companies and regulators should not have a monopoly on crunching the data, they add. But appropriate measures would have to be put in place to first maintain patient confidentiality and prevent misuse of data by rival companies.
PHARMACEUTICAL – US biotech Amgen has signed a deal to buy privately owned drug development company KAI Pharmaceuticals for $315 million. The move will give Amgen access to KAI-4169, a Phase II drug candidate for treating secondary hyperparathyroidism in patients on dialysis with chronic kidney disease. Secondary hyperparathyroidism is excessive secretion of parathyroid hormone by the parathyroid glands in response to hypocalcaemia, a disorder often seen in patients with chronic kidney disease. KAI-4169 is a peptide agonist of the calcium sensing receptor, which affects calcium levels by modulating the release of parathyroid hormone.