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Pharma news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news affecting the industry

MHRA reveals new structure

Government ministers have agreed a new structure for the advisory bodies to the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which will take effect from Autumn. One of the biggest changes is the creation of the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM), an amalgamation of the present Medicines Commission and the Committee on Safety of Medicines, which will advise ministers on the use of medicines in humans.

The MHRA will also establish a number of Expert Advisory Groups (EAGs), which will advise the Commission and other committees on technical issues. The EAGs will cover pharmacovigilance, biologicals and vaccines, and pharmacy and standards. In addition, there are likely to be EAGs for all major therapeutic areas, including paediatrics, respiratory and allergy, oncology, neurology, psychiatry, and dermatology. The regulator is now inviting applications for the EAGs from professional and lay members.

Triptans to go OTC

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and AstraZeneca want to market their rival migraine treatments, Imigran and Zomig Rapimelt, over-the-counter (OTC), according to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). GSK's Imigran was the first triptan to be marketed and its patent expires in Europe in 2006 and in the US in 2008. Professor Kent Woods, chief executive of the MHRA, who has launched an eight-week public consultation, welcomed the availability in pharmacies of triptans, as to be most effective they should be taken as early as possible after the onset of a migraine.

Elan gets another bite of the cherry

Shares in Elan were bumped up after a fresh safety study of its multiple sclerosis treatment, Tysabri, showed no new confirmed cases of brain disease which earlier this year saw its share price plummet 90 per cent. The monoclonal antibody drug was pulled from the market following several reports of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a potentially fatal condition. Despite the share price rise from 6.1p to 7.4p, some analysts don't hold out much hope of the drug making a return to the market by the end of the year while others have said that any comeback is likely to be ìvery restrictedî.

Amphion seeks listing

Amphion Innovations, which builds and develops life sciences ventures, is seeking a listing on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange. `Amphion' is a new holding company formed to acquire the existing business of Amphion Capital Partners, which has been involved in building over 30 hi-tech companies. Prior to establishing the current portfolio, Amphion created six life sciences companies and sold three of them, Vortech, Sequus and Medisense for a combined total of $1.6bn. The company is looking to raise £5m through a placing in conjunction with admission to AIM.

Novartis hunts takeover target

Not content with the acquisition of Hexal and Eon Labs earlier this year, Swiss pharma company Novartis is said to be interested in deal talks with German firm, Schering. However, both companies remain tight-lipped about a possible deal.

30th September 2008

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