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Pharma news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news affecting the industry

Celgene defends Revlimid price

Celgene has defended the price of its new medicine for a rare blood disease, Revlimid, saying it will save the US healthcare system money.

Chief executive John Jackson (who will step down in May but continue as chairman) said the company would charge between $4,500 and $4,700 a month for Revlimid, which comes to between $54,000 and $56,400 annually. He added that patients with the disease, myelodysplastic syndrome, currently require frequent blood transfusions, which are even more expensive.

The US Food and Drug Administration approved the drug last week for a subset of patients with the blood disease.

GSK lobbying for rule change

GSK has called for authorities such as the US Federal Trade Commission to waive their usual rules to allow vaccine manufacturers to work together to help the fight against a future flu pandemic.

Speaking to the Financial Times, GSK chief executive Jean-Pierre Garnier said his company would like to co-operate with other vaccine manufacturers ìbut the US needs to clear that with the FTC and the Food and Drug Administration.î

He said such a move, which would currently breach antitrust rules, could allow quicker and more efficient production of important vaccines.

Busy month for British biotech

A busy month for British biotech deals has been rounded off by AstraZeneca's purchase of cancer-focused KuDOS Pharmaceuticals, a privately held company in Cambridge, for $210m (£121m).

Prior to this, Spanish firm Alimirall agreed to pay GW Pharmaceuticals up to £43m to secure the rights to market its cannabis-based treatment for multiple sclerosis, Sativex, in Europe, excluding the UK.

Earlier in December, Astex, another privately owned biotech firm, landed a deal worth up to $520m when Novartis moved for its promising cancer treatment.

30th September 2008

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