ANALYTICAL: Thermo buys Phadia for €2.5 billion

It’s buy, buy, buy at Thermo Fisher, it seems. The laboratory equipment giant has agreed to buy Phadia – which specialises in allergy and autoimmunity diagnostic products – for €2.5 billion (£2.2 million) in cash. The move follows the successful completion of Thermo’s $2.1 billion (£1.3 billion) acquisition of Dionex and a recent deal for UK company Sterilin, which makes single use plastic products for microbiological, life sciences and clinical applications. (more…)

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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. (more…)

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CHEMICAL: Unilever and P&G fined for price fixing

The European Commission (EC) has fined Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Unilever, two giants in the consumer products area, €315 million (£278 million) for price fixing of laundry detergents. Unilever will pay €104 million, and P&G €211 million. Henkel was also in the cartel, which lasted at least three years, but Henkel has escaped financial penalties by blowing the whistle on the other two. (more…)

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Lucentis returns positive results from DME trial

Genentech has released positive results from its Phase III ‘Rise’ trial of Lucentis (ranibizumab) for the treatment of diabetic macular edema (DME), which causes swelling of the retina and can lead to blindness. The company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Swiss drug maker Roche, says the drug provided ‘rapid and sustained improvement in vision’ compared with placebo. Swelling in the retina was reduced, and patients were able to read more easily. The results were presented at the 34th annual meeting of the Macula Society in Florida, US.

After 24 months, 45 per cent of patients (56 out of 125) given 0.3mg doses of Lucentis could read at least 15 additional letters on the eye chart than they were able to at the start of the study, compared with 18 per cent of patients (23 out of 127) given placebo. But – as seen in previous trials – patients in the Lucentis group were more prone to certain side-effects, the most serious of which were infection, tearing of the retina and cataracts caused by trauma.

The results follow the recent decision by the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) to withhold recommendation of Lucentis for the treatment of DME in the first draft of its guidance. Nice assesses drugs on behalf of the UK National Health Service, taking into consideration their cost. Lucentis is vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor approved for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and other eye conditions. In Europe, it is marketed by Novartis. (more…)

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Short of breath? Wheezing? Salbutamol is the asthmatic’s elixir that saved Andrea Sella’s life. Find out more and learn how this blockbuster drug was abused by athletes in this week’s Chemistry in its element podcast

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Novartis buys Genoptix for $470 million…

Swiss pharma company Novartis has agreed to buy US diagnostic services company Genoptix for $470 million (£300 million), equivalent to $25 per share, in cash. According to Novartis, the offer represents a premium of 39 per cent over the Genoptix ‘unaffected’ share price on 13 December 2010. Genoptix specialises in diagnosing cancer in bone marrow, blood and lymph nodes. It employs 500 staff and in 2009 made sales of $184 million. The Genoptix board has unanimously approved the transaction and will recommend stockholders tender their shares. (more…)

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Pharma brand erosion hits US hardest

The US will be the region hit hardest by erosion of the branded small molecule drug market by generic competition, according to a new report. Cheaper generic alternatives are becoming available as patents for key drugs expire, making it harder for drugmakers to recover money spent during drug development. Analysts at UK market research company Datamonitor said that on average US sales fall 72 per cent in the six months following the appearance of generic competition. Meanwhile, global trends are more complicated. In China, for example, patent expiries have little if any impact because brands face generic competition from the outset. Erosion is greatest for infectious disease, oncology and cardiovascular small molecule brands, and is greater in the market for hospital use than that for direct patient consumption.  (more…)

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MedImmune interest in Amgen biologic

MedImmune – the biologics unit at pharma major AstraZeneca – has gained rights to a monoclonal antibody from US biotech Amgen. AMG 108 is a fully human monoclonal antibody in Phase I and II clinical trials for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. The companies have not disclosed financial details. (more…)

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New boss at Pfizer 

Ian Read

US drug giant Pfizer has a new boss at the helm. Jeff Kindler has unexpectedly retired from the company after four and a half years as chief executive, citing the demanding nature of the job. The vacancy has been filled by Ian Read, who from 2006 headed the biopharmaceutical businesses. ‘The combination of meeting the requirements of our many stakeholders around the world, and the 24-7 nature of my responsibilities, has made this period extremely demanding on me personally,’ said Kindler. ‘I am excited at the opportunity to recharge my batteries, spend some rare time with my family and prepare for the next challenge in my career.’ 

Brilinta news

Blood thinner BriIinta (ticagrelor) from pharma major AstraZeneca has been approved in Europe for the prevention of heart attacks and other cardiovascular events in patients with coronary problems. (more…)

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PHARMACEUTICAL

GSK welcome UK tax change

UK drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has responded to new UK government tax plans by promising to invest £500 million in manufacturing projects. The government will introduce a ‘patent box’ that will reduce the rate of corporation tax on profits generated from intellectual property (IP) in the hope that this will encourage investment in research and development. (more…)

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