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Pharma news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news affecting the industry

Adjust drug prices for poorer EU members, says commissioner

EU health commissioner Markos Kyprianou has called for a reform of European drug pricing to help poorer member states meet global health challenges. Speaking to the Financial Times, he said that preferential access should cover drugs including HIV/AIDS medicines as well as the anti-viral Tamiflu, considered to be the leading treatment against bird flu. He advanced the idea of a 'payback' scheme whereby all European countries would pay the same price for medicines but the industry would refund part of the payment according to the financial ability and situation of each member state. However, he stressed that such a scheme would have to respect EU single market rules and not increase parallel trade.

Roche in talks over speeding up Tamiflu production

Roche has predicted that it will be able to produce 300m treatments of its anti-viral Tamiflu annually by 2007. The Swiss company is currently in talks with eight companies, including both generic and R&D-based manufacturers, as well as governments about forming partnerships to further increase worldwide supply. It says it will judge potential partners on their quality, technical ability, capacity and speed of bringing capacity on stream. Tamiflu has been shown to be effective in animal models against the H5N1 strain of bird flu that has spread from the Far East to Europe, which it is feared could mutate into a virus that could spread among humans, causing a global pandemic.

sanofi-aventis on song

French drugmaker sanofi-aventis has posted a 29 per cent rise in third-quarter net profit, on the back of strong sales of blockbuster products. Net profit reach Ä1.92bn, compared with 1.49 in the year-ago quarter. Revenue from the companyís best-selling anti-coagulant Lovenox, rose 14 per cent to Ä551m, while another blood-thinner, Plavix, generated revenue of Ä534m, up 23 per cent from the corresponding 2004 quarter. sanofi-aventis kept a forecast for growth in earnings per share of at least 20 per cent in 2005 despite lower sales of allergy pill Allegra, its third-best selling drug last year, after coming under generic competition.

FTC blocks Warner ChilcottñBarr deal

The US Federal Trade Commission has prevented Warner Chilcott from entering into an agreement with generic manufacturer Barr Pharmaceuticals over the formerís oral contraceptive product Ovcon. The FTC said that in the deal Barr had agreed not to launch a generic version of Ovcon in the US for a period of five years in exchange for $20m from the British-based company. "The agreement between Warner Chilcott and Barr is a naked agreement not to compete and to share the resulting profits between a branded drug seller and its only prospective generic competitor," said FTC chairman Deborah Platt Majoras in a statement.

Speculation over Serono sale

Europeís biggest biotechnology firm Serono is in a search for potential buyers, according to the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper reported that the Swiss company has hired investment bank Goldman Sachs to oversee a buy-out. Serono, with a $13bn market capitalisation, is a leader in infertility treatment and has developed portfolios in AIDS and multiple sclerosis. While revenues at the company have been steadily increasing, the company suffered a blow last month when it agreed to pay a $704m fine to resolve criminal charges related to the US marketing of its AIDS drug, Serostim.

30th September 2008

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