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Pharma news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news affecting the industry

US tenders for vaccines

The US government has upped its efforts to stockpile smallpox vaccines as part of its defence against the threat of a bioterrorist attack by issuing a tender for 80 million doses worth an estimated $1bn. Vaccine maker Acambis has said the tender is for 20 million doses of the weakened MVA vaccine in the first two years, with an option for a further 60 million doses. The US has already stockpiled 180 million doses of full-strength vaccines for smallpox, which is seen as the deadliest biological agent that terrorists could unleash.

FDA keeps Meridia on the market

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rejected calls from consumer groups to withdraw Abbott Laboratories obesity drug Meridia from the market. The regulator concluded that Meridia's overall risk-benefit profile supports its position as a prescription drug, but said it would watch out for further safety problems. Consumer group, Public Citizen has twice called on the agency to pull the drug claiming that people taking it had died from cardiovascular problems.

Shire and Barr in discussions

Shire Pharmaceuticals has said that it is in very early talks with rival company Barr Pharmaceuticals over a legal dispute concerning hyperactivity drug, Adderall XR. The two companies locked horns when Shire threaten to sue Barr over its efforts to market a generic formulation of Adderall XR. In a regulatory statement, Shire said it would continue to review all its options with respect to litigation, and had not ruled out the possibility of settling the case or entering into an agreement that would enable Barr to launch its generic.

Roche in talks with WHO

Roche is on the brink of agreeing a donation of 3 million doses of its antiviral drug, Tamiflu to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The drug would provide rapid treatment and protection against the H5N1 virus in poor countries in south-east Asia, and limit its global spread. Reports suggest that a contract, under which the company would deliver an initial 1 million doses, could be signed in September. Tamiflu is one of only two drugs with proven effectiveness in limiting the spread of flu virus.

OSI agrees Eyetech deal

OSI Pharmaceuticals has agreed to buy Eyetech Pharmaceuticals for $935m in cash and stock, as it attempts to get a foothold in the eye treatment market. OSI will pay $20 for each Eyetech share - $15 in cash and the remainder in stock. The offer represents a 43 per cent premium on Eyetech's closing price on August 19. The deal is expected to complete by the end of the year and combined revenues are estimated at around $600m for 2006.

Ranbaxy back on WHO list

Seven generic AIDS drugs made by Ranbaxy have been reinstated to the World Health Organisation (WHO) prequalification list for use in poor countries. A year ago, the WHO took three Ranbaxy generics off the list, saying there was no proof that they were as good as the patented equivalent. Ranbaxy subsequently withdrew its remaining four AIDS drugs from the list. The drugs have been reinstated following a full range of quality, safety and efficacy tests, as well as thorough inspections of the drug manufacturing sites, all of which were found to be satisfactory.

30th September 2008

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