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Pharma news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news affecting the industry

Pfizer plan hampered by UK planning rules
Pfizer decided to abandon a plan to relocate its European headquarters in Britain because of overly bureaucratic UK planning rules, according to a government review. An interim report by Kate Barker, a member of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, on the economic and environmental impact of planning rules is due to be published next week. Pfizer's decision to base the headquarters in Germany rather than Surrey is one of several setbacks for the UK economy attributed to the failures of the planning system in the Treasury-funded report.

Merck drops Sarizotan
German firm, Merck KGaA, has ended the development of its experimental treatment for Parkinson's disease, Sarizotan, after it failed in late-stage clinical trials. The drug had been expected to generate annual sales of as much as Ä250m ($314.3m) if it had been approved. Merck said that two phase III studies did not demonstrate a statistically significant difference between Sarizotan and a placebo. The drug had been developed for the treatment of dyskinesia, the involuntary twitching movements that are suffered by people in the advanced stages of Parkinson's disease.

FTC appeal over Schering-Plough deal rejected
The US Supreme Court has turned down an appeal from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) challenging patent-settlement deals between brand-name and generic drug firms. The FTC had complained that a deal between Schering-Plough and Upsher-Smith Laboratories over a generic version of the former's high blood pressure supplement, K-Dur 20, violates federal antitrust laws. Under terms of the $60m pact, Upsher-Smith agreed to delay selling the generic version. US Solicitor General Paul Clement said the FTC's appeal ìdoes not present an appropriate opportunity for this court to determine the proper standards for distinguishing legitimate patent settlementsî.

Enbrel European sales top $1bn
Wyeth said it expects continued strong sales of blockbuster injectable arthritis treatment, Enbrel, in Europe, after new data highlighted its long-term benefits. Clinical trial results showed Enbrel continued to help patients after four years of treatment - tests found half of rheumatoid arthritis patients recorded low disease activity, as measured by a clinical score called DAS, compared with 66.7 per cent with low disease activity after three years of treatment. Richard Dudek, head of Wyeth's commercial team for Enbrel in Europe, Middle East and Africa, told Reuters rolling 12-month European sales of Enbrel had passed $1bn for the first time in March.

PT saves money, says report
Parallel traders in medicines save patients and health insurers hundreds of millions of euros a year, according to a study commissioned by the European Association of Euro-Pharmaceutical Companies (EAEPC). The report, written by the University of Southern Denmark, said parallel trade in Denmark, Germany, Sweden and the UK alone cut medical costs by Ä442m (£305m) in 2004. Direct savings from the UK were deemed to be £162m. ìIn their heart of hearts everyone knows that parallel trade must deliver savings - otherwise why would it exist?î commented Hans Bogh-Sorensen, president of the EAEPC.

30th September 2008


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