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Pharma news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news affecting the industry

Merck loses latest Vioxx trial
Merck & Co. has been dealt an unexpected blow after a New Jersey jury concluded that it knowingly misled regulators about its controversial painkiller, Vioxx. The US firm will have to pay $9m in punitive damages to John McDarby, 77, who had a heart attack while taking the drug. Last week, Merck was ordered to pay $4.5m in compensatory damages. Merck said it was ìdisappointedî by the court's decision and that it will appeal both verdicts. ìMerck's actions were proper and did not, in any way, call for this award as defined by New Jersey law,î said Chuck Harrell, a member of the firm's defence team in a statement.

Serono gives up search for buyer
Swiss biotech firm, Serono, has given up on its search for a buyer, reiterating an end of March announcement that it would instead try a programme of expansion to move forward. The market reacted negatively to the news, with shares falling by more than 8 per cent to close at SwFr845 on Monday (April 10). Serono chief financial officer, Stuart Grant, said Serono would focus on buying drugs already on the market or in late-stage trials to bridge a gap in its pipeline. He added that the firm would consider expanding in auto-immune diseases and cancer treatments, two franchises in which it currently has products, but might also be prepared to buy into new therapies.

Government should back manufacturing, says ABPI president
The UK government should encourage pharma companies to continue the manufacturing of medicines in Britain, according to the new Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) president, Nigel Brooksby. The managing director of sanofi-aventis in the UK told Agence de Press Medicale that although the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) had gone some way to protect R&D, it did little to encourage manufacturing. ìWe are manufacturing pharmaceuticals, not white goods,î he said. ìWhen quality needs to be the absolute highest we still have a chance in the UK,î he said.

30th September 2008

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