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Pharma news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news affecting the industry

EFPIA gives it's blessing

The European Parliament has moved forward proposed regulation for improved medicines for use in children. The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), which believes the European Parliament vote offers a key opportunity for Europe's children and pharmaceutical science base, has urged Member States to move the proposed regulation forward.

Last month, the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) launched a six-month consultation period on a draft guideline on the conduct of pharmacovigilance for medicines used in children up to the age of 18. The guidance was the first to focus exclusively on the issues of drug safety for this age group.

The pharma industry has been heavily criticised for its perceived reluctance to fund the development of medicines for children and the guidelines are designed to stimulate R&D and authorisation of drugs for paediatric use

Novartis could raise bid

Novartis is expected to raise its bid for US flu vaccine manufacturer, Chiron after the company rejected its first offer of $4.5bn or $40 a share. Shares in the biotech company traded at premium following Novartis' offer as investors expected a second approach.

While analysts believe that the Swiss pharma company could offer $45 a share, they warned that Novartis was unlikely to pay a much higher premium because its majority stake will ward off potential rival bids. Novartis is keen to enter the vaccines market that experts predict could be worth between $31bn and $43bn in 10 years.

Merck strengthens defence

Merck & Co has fortified its defences as it gears up to face critical federal court cases due to start in November. Federal court cases make up around 2,500 of the 5,000 lawsuits being bought against Merck claiming injury from Vioxx. Tighter evidence rules in federal court means that these cases are expected to play a key part in determining Merck's ultimate liability.

The company has also hired attorney Phil Beck, who was credited with saving Bayer billions of dollars in liability when he led the defence of its cholesterol drug Baycol in 2003.

Eisai goes live in India

Eisai has started operations at its subsidiary in India, as part of its plan to maximise on the country's growing drug market and harness its scientific talent. Soichi Matsuno, managing director of Eisai's global pharmaceuticals business believes that India offers marketing and sales opportunities and `something more'. ìWe are very much interested in the area of production, efficiency and also cost-management because India is a world famous generic player, so [there is] something bigger that we have to learn,î he told a news conference.

Eisai already sells some products in India through partners and is planning to use the country as a location to conduct clinical trials.

30th September 2008

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