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Pharma news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news affecting the industry

NICE issues final guidance on AIs
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published a final appraisal document, recommending the use of aromatase inhibitors for early breast cancer in post-menopausal women. NICE said that the drugs, AstraZeneca's Arimidex (anastrozole), Novartis' Femara (letrozole) and Pfizer's Aromasin (exemestane) should be used alongside or instead of the ìgold standardî drug, tamoxifen, after surgery. Studies have found that aromatase inhibitors reduce the risk of tumours spreading following surgery. Around 41,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and an estimated 60 per cent of these have tumours that would be eligible for treatment with aromatase inhibitors.

Novartis and Schering-Plough agreement
Novartis and Schering-Plough have signed a worldwide collaboration agreement to develop and market an inhalable, once-daily drug for the treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The product will combine Novartis' experimental beta2-agonist, indacaterol, and Schering's corticosteroid Asmanex (mometasone). No upfront payments were made, and the firms will share development costs. If the combination drug is approved, it will be co-marketed by both companies globally.

Dearth of UK science students
Not enough scientists are being produced in UK schools, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). The organisation said the current system, under which most pupils study for a ìcombined scienceî double GCSE, rather than the old system of separate courses for chemistry, physics and biology, meant that the curriculum had been ìstripped downî. The number of A-level students taking physics had fallen 56 per cent in 20 years, while in chemistry, the decline was 37 per cent. CBI director-general, Richard Lambert, said employers were increasingly worried about the long-term decline in numbers studying A-level science subjects. ìThey see at first hand, the young people who leave school and university looking for a job, and compare them to what they need - and increasingly are looking overseas for graduates,î he added.

30th September 2008

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