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Pharma news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news affecting the industry

Bayer and Schering-Plough sign marketing deal

Schering-Plough has agreed to market and distribute Bayer's main antibiotics Avelox and Cipro, and blood pressure drug Adalat in the US. Under the deal, Bayer will also sell some Schering-Plough cancer products in the US and Europe. The move is the latest effort by the German manufacturer to reduce costs and streamline its pharma business which has been hit by problems since the costly recall of anti-cholesterol drug Lipobay in August 2001. Bayer chief executive Werner Wenning said his company aimed to be a ìbest in class, mid-size pharmaceutical company.î

Yellow card scheme extended to patients

A scheme whereby UK patients will be able to report drug side effects to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is now underway. Previously concerns about drug safety have only been raised by GPs, pharmacists and pharma firms under the Yellow Card Scheme. Yellow card forms are to be placed in GP practices and other NHS sites, while patients will also be able to report suspected side effects online at www.yellowcard.gov.uk. ìBy inviting people to report their experiences, not only are we able to gain better insights into the safety of medicines, but we can more directly involve people in medicines regulation,î said MHRA chief executive Professor Kent Woods.

Amgen enjoys strong growth on Aranesp sales

Amgen has reported healthy revenue and profit growth on the back of strong sales of its anaemia drug Aranesp. The world's largest biotech firm said third quarter net income more than tripled to $967m from $236m in the previous year. Revenues rose 16 per cent to $3.15bn. Despite Aranesp sales rising 38 per cent to $840m in the quarter, analyst Christopher Raymond at Robert W Baird & Co said changes in Medicare programmes could have a negative impact on sales next year. Amgen chief executive Kevin Sharer described the company's expanded pipeline of experimental drugs as ìvery promising.î

Yasmin drives Schering growth

Cash-rich German firm Schering has reported a 29 per cent rise in third quarter net profit as sales of birth control pill Yasmin continue to soar. Schering said net profit rose to Ä160m ($191.2m) in the quarter from Ä124m a year earlier. Yasmin, the company's second best-selling product saw sales climb 34 per cent to Ä165m. Schering chief financial officer Jorg Spiekerkotter described the quarterly results as the best in the company's history and said its recent cost cutting programme (which included job cuts and plant closures) helped it improve its net profit.

Public Citizen calls for Viagra label warning

Consumer advocacy group Public Citizen has urged the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to add `black box' warnings to the labels of Pfizer's impotence drug Viagra and two of its rivals, Eli Lilly's and Icos' Cialis and GlaxoSmithKline and Schering-Plough's Levitra. A small number of people taking the drugs have developed nonarteritic ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION), a loss of vision that is frequently irreversible. Public Citizen says that FDA data comparing the rates of people who developed NAION while on the impotence drugs was significantly higher than those taking Pfizer's anticholesterol blockbuster Lipitor, which is used by people with the same risk factors.

30th September 2008

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