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Pharma news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news affecting the industry

Fisher is new commercial head at ABPI
Former Pfizer and sanofi-aventis executive, David Fisher, has been named commercial director of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, a newly created position within the organisation.

His new role will involve developing and implementing UK commercial strategy policy for the industry and representing the ABPI in front of the media.

ìThe ability of the UK pharmaceutical industry to remain innovative and globally competitive relies on a sound commercial environment,î he said.

He joins from Maritz, where he was European sales director and pharmaceutical sector lead.

Eisai gains Scottish recommendation for epilepsy drug
Eisai's new epilepsy drug Zonegran (zonisamide) has been recommended for use in adult patients with partial seizures by the Scottish Medicines Consortium, the country's drugs assessment watchdog.

The approval comes a full two years before the drug will be assessed for use in epilepsy, by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which decides guidelines on drugs for use in England and Wales.

ìWe're fortunate in Scotland that the SMC has approved another drug for use in patients with partial epilepsy where other drugs have failed,î said Dr John Paul Leach, a Glasgow consultant neurologist.

GSK gets child vaccine go-ahead
GlaxoSmithKline has been given the go-ahead by European regulators to launch Rotarix, an infant vaccine against the highly contagious rotavirus. The company is now hoping to begin negotiations with individual countries on reimbursement for the vaccine and whether it will be added to established vaccination programmes.

Rotarix, which will be the first vaccine available to children in Europe for the prevention of gastroenteritis caused by rotavirus, is a two-dose oral vaccine, administered to babies between the age of two and four months.

Last month, Merck's rival Rotateq vaccine gained US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval as well as a Centers for Disease Control recommendation that it would be reimbursable by the government for uninsured and underinsured American children.

Fear driving PT slurs, says BAEPD
The UK parallel trade industry is being undermined by pharma firms fearful of a US market open to parallel imports in the future, claims the British Association of European Pharmaceutical Distributors (BAEPD).

Describing parallel imports in the US as a ìvery real possibilityî, BAEPD secretary-general Richard Freudenberg said drug manufacturers had made ìnumerous attempts to misrepresent the safety and legitimacy of the parallel import industryî.

ìFrequently parallel imports are quite wrongly and deliberately linked with counterfeit medicines, creating the misleading impression that the two practices are one and the same,î he said.

US firms win flu vaccine contracts
Baxter and Chiron have been awarded contracts worth £33m to supply flu vaccines by the end of the year to help protect 1.3m UK healthcare workers from the H5N1 avian flu virus.

ìWe take the potential threat posed by pandemic flu very seriously,î said health minister, Rosie Winterton. ìBuilding a stockpile will allow us to carry out more research and could be offered as a possible first line of defence for NHS workers.î

While scientists say that an effective vaccine can only be developed once a strain lethal in humans has been identified, clinical trials have suggested that the existing H5N1 vaccines may still provide some protection against a future pandemic strain.

We have the money, says Bayer
Bayer chief executive Werner Wenning has dismissed speculation that his company's ability to conduct mergers and acquisitions will be impaired by financial restrictions.

Wenning told the Boersen-Zeitung newspaper that ìan acquisition that creates value and fits the portfolio will not fail because of financial limitationsî.

He added that he wanted to strengthen the company, particularly in the area of non-prescription drug, where sufficient margins could be achieved.

30th September 2008

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