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Pharma news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news affecting the industry

GSK signs inflammatory disease deal
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has signed a licensing deal with US biotechnology group, ChemoCentryx, to discover, develop and market novel oral treatments for inflammatory diseases, including irritable bowel syndrome. ChemoCentryx will receive an upfront payment of $63.5m in both cash and an equity investment. The collaboration covers several projects, including ChemoCentryx's drug, Traficet-EN, which is already in late-stage development for inflammatory bowel disease. The deal, which is potentially worth up to $1.5bn in milestone payments, is the third signed by GSK's Centre of Excellence for External Drug Discovery, set up last year.

High-dosage sales boost Lipitor revenue
Sales of Pfizer's Lipitor rose in the second quarter, on the back of a boost in sales of higher-priced doses of the cholesterol-lowering blockbuster. The number of patients taking the highest doses in June rose by more than 10 per cent compared with May, according to analysts. A 10mg pill costs $2.44, while the 40mg and 80mg doses are $3.33 each. Lipitor revenue in the quarter rose by 2 per cent to $3.1bn, despite the number of patients remaining roughly the same.

OTC morning after pill gets US go-ahead
A lingering ethical debate about whether teenagers in the US will be easily able to procure the `morning after' contraception pill has been resolved with the news that the US Food and Drug Administration has ruled that consumers must show identification that proves they are over 18 in order to buy the OTC version of the drug, Plan B. The drug's manufacturer, Barr Pharmaceuticals, has also committed itself to monitoring whether the age rule is being enforced, including surveying of healthcare professionals and sending `anonymous shoppers' to test whether pharmacies are following rules.

GSK ahead in profit-per-employee poll
The 20 largest quoted companies in the UK make an average of over £96,000 pre-tax profit per employee, according to research carried out by the Observer. Of the two pharmaceutical companies in the FTSE top twenty, GlaxoSmithKline came slightly ahead of AstraZeneca. The study was conducted using the latest full-year profits available, taken from the companies' annual reports or using data supplied by the companies to Reuters.

30th September 2008

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