- European Society of Cardiology: News came thick and fast out of this annual meeting in Munich. The results of a potentially important study of stents vs scalpels in treating clogged arteries are in, and surgery has come out on top. Lilly and Daiichi's prasugrel got a boost in diabetics prior to its 26th September FDA deadline. An analysis of the previously released Triton-Timi 38 trial showed that prasugrel was more effective than standard-of-care clopidogrel (Plavix) in that patient population, reports Reuters. Pronova/GSK's Omacor (fish oil) met both primary endpoints in a Phase III outcomes study in patients with heart failure, who were 9% less likely to die than patients given placebo. AZ's Crestor didn't fare as well in a similar population. Finally, Bayer said it would speed up development of rivaroxaban--putting a little extra pressure on Pfizer/BMS, whose rival candidate apixaban hit a snag last week, as we wrote about here. For more news out of the meeting, click here.
- Shionogi & Co. is the latest in a pretty long line of Japanese pharmaceutical companies buying up cheaper American firms to help expand into western markets. Shionogi bought Sciele Pharma for $1.1 billion ($31/share, a 61% premium to the stock's previous close) plus the assumption of $325 million in debt, the companies announced on Monday. Atlanta-based Sciele had revenues of more than $382 million in 2007, and specializes in women's health, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and pediatrics. For more on Japanese Pharma appetites, see here, and look for a feature on these trends in an autumn issue of IN VIVO.
- Oncology expert Prof. Karol Sikora of CancerPartnersUK diagnoses the ills of the country's NHS and writes this prescription in The Sunday Times: "Radical structural change to the NHS is vital. Competition and choice drive up quality and access, so leading to greater value, just as we’ve seen in other consumer areas such as mobile phones, budget airlines and the high street. Sensible incentives linked to performance and outcomes are essential. Drastic reform, not more money, is now needed."
- Novacea, which begun a strategic review in May after Schering-Plough canceled an alliance around its entered an agreement to merge with Trancept Pharmaceuticals (nee TransOral Pharmaceuticals, click here for our admittedly old 2003 profile of the firm). The latter company, a privately-held specialty pharma that specializes in tweaking the pharmacokinetics of CNS compounds, has raised more than $70 million in venture funding but--surprise, surprise--has been unable in this climate to tap the public markets. If investors buy into this reverse merger, TransCept backers will hold 60% of the combined company, which, the companies say, will have enough cash to pursue FDA approval for and launch its Intermezzo lozenge formulation of the insomnia drug zolpidem (the now-generic Ambien).
- Lipitor ads are back after six months off the air, but you mean nasty bloggers won't have Dr Jarvik to kick around any more! According to the WSJ, Jarvik's out and heart attack survivor John Erlendson is in. What are the odds that he's a rower?
- In the latest installment of its A1 "The Evidence Gap" series, The New York Times asks why more than three million people still take Vytorin/Zetia every day, and notes that some prominent cardiologists are now calling for it to be taken off the market.
- The Guardian adds up the challenges facing Big Pharma and, well, that's pretty much it. Would have been nice to see some answers in there too.
- Speaking of The Guardian, Ben Goldacre's Bad Science (the book) is on shelves now (at least in the UK). Go on, buy one. And if you haven't already, click the link to his web site in our blogroll to the right to get a preview.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
While You Were Saying Goodbye to Summer
Keyser Soze, Summer 2008 is now just a memory. Hey, at least football season has begun, right? Below, our roundup of what you might have missed while enjoying that last BBQ of the season.