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Pharma news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news affecting the industry

Abbott back in the club
Abbott Laboratories has been reinstated to membership of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI). At the beginning of 2006, the US company was suspended for a minimum of six months after being found to be in breach of the ABPI Code of Practice, including Clause 2 which deals with activities that bring discredit on the pharmaceutical industry. The ABPI said an audit report in May referred to Abbott's ìcommitment to compliance and its progress in recent monthsî. The ABPI board of management decided that Abbott should be reinstated with effect from July 1, but has insisted on a further audit within six months to ensure progress is being maintained.

Merck wins latest Vioxx case
Merck & Co has convinced a New Jersey jury that it was not responsible for the heart attack of a 68-year-old patient taking Vioxx, meaning the firm has now won more cases than it has lost in product liability suits over the arthritis painkiller. The seven-person jury deliberated for two days before deciding that, while Merck had not adequately warned Elaine Doherty of the risks, the drug did not contribute substantially to her heart attack. ìThe company acted responsibly, the science was on our side, and the jury agreed,î said Jim Fitzpatrick, a lawyer on Merck's defence team. Vioxx was withdrawn from the market in September 2004 after it was found to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes in people who used it for 18 months or more.

Further tests for Wyeth depression drug
Wyeth is to conduct further tests on experimental depression drug, DVS-233, after recent trials found it triggered nausea. The company said it does not expect a launch until 2007. The drug is a derivative of Wyeth's blockbuster, Effexor XR, and has been awaiting US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval since December. The firm said clinical trials at lower dosages were being conducted ìto further define the profileî of DVS-233. ìWe are trying to see whether there are significant groups of patients that can use lower doses and have good efficacy and a more tolerable profile,î said chief executive, Bob Essner.

Amgen and ProStrakan in R&D deal
Amgen has signed a licence and collaboration deal with ProStrakan, which could net the European specialty pharma company $150m in milestone payments. Amgen will pay $7m for a worldwide licence to develop and commercialise some of ProStrakan's pre-clinical compounds for renal disease, as well as providing research collaboration funding of $1.1.m for the first year. ProStrakan will receive milestone payments upon successful completion of certain pre-clinical, clinical, regulatory and commercial events. ìThis agreement recognises the world class research carried out by our discovery unit and helps take us a step closer to realising our long term goal to build a cash-generative, sustainable pharmaceutical company,î said ProStrakan CEO, Dr Wilson Totten.

30th September 2008

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