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Pharma news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news in brief

New ABPI members
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has elected Servier Laboratories and Gr˙nenthal to full membership, while three other companies have been admitted as general affiliates. ìI am delighted to welcome these new member companies to the ABPI,î said association president, Nigel Brooksby. The new general affiliates are The Boots Company, Policy Matters and STAR Medical while a sixth company, Sequani, joins as a research affiliate.

Antisoma cancer drug boost
UK biotech, Antisoma, says its experimental prostate cancer drug, AS1404, has achieved positive preliminary results in a phase II clinical trial. In the study, 57 per cent of prostate cancer patients responded to treatment when given AS1404 in combination with docetaxel chemotherapy, compared with 35 per cent for those receiving docetaxel alone. Analysts said the data would boost Antisoma's chances of finding a new partner for the drug after Roche dropped it in June. Shares in the firm rose 3.3 per cent at 15.75p, on the news.

AZ-Bayer Schering cancer deal
Bayer's new unit, Bayer Schering Pharma AG, has signed a deal with AstraZeneca (AZ) to develop and market a new type of breast cancer treatment. AZ will assume control of clinical development, while Bayer Schering will manufacture the drug. The experimental treatment, a selective oestrogen receptor down-regulator, will regulate a biological switch that is turned on by the hormone, oestrogen, which acts as a stimulant for many breast cancers. Although the drug is not yet advanced enough to be tested in clinical trials, Peter Zuendorf, head of the Schering oncology unit, said it ìhas the potential to offer a specific and targeted therapy approach for women with breast cancer.î

GSK agrees discounted HIV prices in Russia
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has signed an agreement with the Russian government to supply anti-retroviral HIV/AIDS drugs at discounted prices, the first of its kind within the country. Under the terms of the deal, GSK will supply over 90,000 treatment packs of the HIV medicines, Combivir, Epivir and Ziagen, by the end of 2006. The drugs will be dispensed by hospital centres across Russia. The Russian government has set a target of reaching 15,000 patients by the end of 2006 and 30,000 by the end of 2007.

Wyeth wins HRT case
An Arkansas jury has ruled that Wyeth's hormone replacement therapy drugs were not responsible for causing the breast cancer of a 67-year old female patient. The suit claimed that Wyeth had failed to provide adequate warnings about the drugs' potential adverse events. The plaintiff started treatment with Wyeth's Premarin and then switched to Prempro. She was diagnosed with breast cancer, after more than eight years of HRT. ìWe believe the jury's decision was consistent with the evidence presented and the body of scientific knowledge around hormone therapy,î said Wyeth counsel, Lyn Pruitt. About 4,500 lawsuits have been filed against Wyeth over its HRT drugs.

30th September 2008

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