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Pharma news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news in brief

Lilly to buy Icos
Eli Lilly has agreed to buy Icos, its partner in developing the second biggest selling erectile dysfunction (ED) drug, Cialis, for $2.1bn. Lilly will pay $32 a share, 18 per cent more than Monday's closing price for the Washington-based firm. Lilly chief executive, Sidney Taurel, said the agreement ìprovides financial and operational benefits to Lilly while providing substantial value to both Lilly and Icos shareholdersî. He added that he expects continued growth in the erectile dysfunction market, mainly outside the US. Cialis is currently available in more than 100 countries and is the top selling ED drug in France and Brazil.

Gardasil UK launch
Gardasil, the first vaccine to prevent cervical cancer and other human papillomavirus diseases has been launched in the UK by Sanofi Pasteur MSD. The drug is licensed for children and adolescents aged 9 to 15 years and adult females aged 16 to 26 years. One dose costs ?80.50 and a person needs three doses for protection. Dr George Kassianos, spokesman for the Royal College of General Practitioners said everyone involved in the prevention and management of cervical cancer ìwill now be looking forward to the findings of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) regarding the policy for vaccination in the UKî. Sanofi Pasteur MSD is a joint venture between sanofi-aventis' vaccine division, Sanofi Pasteur, and Merck & Co.

Eisai complains about NICE `lack of transparency'
Japanese firm, Eisai has appealed to the British parliamentary ombudsman over an alleged lack of transparency in the way the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) evaluates new drugs, according to the Financial Times. Paul Hooper, managing director of Eisai UK told the newspaper that the evaluations NICE commissioned from outside contractors ìvary widely in qualityî. Last week, NICE rejected an appeal by Eisai, the maker of Alzheimer's drug Aricept, and other pharma companies to have their drugs reimbursed on the NHS when they are prescribed for the early stages of the disease.

Merck diabetes drug nears US launch
Merck could receive US regulatory approval next Monday for its new diabetes drug, Januvia, according to local reports. The treatment is the first of a new type of oral diabetes drugs called DPP-IV inhibitors, which help the body to better regulate sugar and insulin production. Analysts have forecast annual sales of more than $1bn for Januvia, even though it is likely to quickly face competition. Novartis' rival drug, Galvus, is expected to be approved next month and both drugs are expected to erode market share of an older class of diabetes drugs known as TZDs, which includes GlaxoSmithKline's Avandia and Eli Lilly and Takeda's Actos.

Essential findings on TGN1412 not provided, say researchers
Essential findings were not provided in the research file submitted to the UK's drug trial assessor regarding TeGenero's experimental monoclonal antibody TGN1412, according to research published in The Lancet. Dr Adam Cohen, from the Netherlands' Centre for Human Drug Research, and Dr Marcel Kenter, from the Central Committee of Research involving Human Subjects, argued in their paper that the German firm stated that biological structures targeted by TGN1412 were the same in humans and monkeys. However, no detailed data on such a comparison was included, they said. ìFrom the information that was disclosed, we conclude that the assessors did not receive all relevant findings,î the researchers wrote. In March, six male volunteers who received TGN1412 in a phase I trial were hospitalised after suffering severe adverse events.

30th September 2008

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