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R&D news in brief

Our weekly round-up of drug discovery and development stories.

J&J stent fails trial

Johnson & Johnson has failed to prove that its drug-coated stent Cypher is better than rival stent Taxus. Presenting its results at the American College of Cardiology Annual Scientific Session, Johnson & Johnson revealed that its stent was “efficacious at comparable rates” with Boston Scientific's stent Taxus. Dr William Hunter, president and chief executive officer of Angiotech Pharmaceuticals, who sold the worldwide rights of its stent to Boston Scientific, said that Johnson & Johnson's efforts to better Taxus were “predictable and desperate”.

Evotec acquires ENS

German drug discovery company Evotec has acquired the outstanding 78 per cent of fellow R&D firm ENS. The €49m acquisition will create a fully-integrated biotech company specialising in the research and development of products for diseases of the central nervous system. As a result of the acquisition, Evotec has total cash resources of more than €60m. The company said it would use the money to develop its pipeline so that at least two products would enter clinical trials by 2006 and one developed to proof-of-concept by 2008.

Pharma should look east

India and China are a magnet for the pharmaceutical industry, a Frost & Sullivan report has found. The report, Strategic Analysis of the Opportunities for European Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Companies in Indian and Chinese Markets, argues that the countries are able to conduct low-cost, large-scale clinical trials, with governments displaying an international vision. However, the report also warns that challenges such as invariable bureaucratic delays, corruption and red tapism could discourage companies from expanding there.

UK votes against UN

The UK government will vote against the United Nations' declaration on human cloning, it has said. The United Nations' General Assembly is expected to call on countries to prohibit all forms of human cloning - a stance backed by the US. However, John Reid, Secretary of State for Health, said that the government would vote against the declaration. “This [the declaration] would deny many patients with illnesses like Parkinson's disease, chronic heart disease and juvenile diabetes, the potential of effective treatments,” he said.

Labour uses science vote

The Labour party turned its attention towards the scientific community this week as it gears up for an election battle. The government revealed that it is committing a £10bn investment in science and technology and warned that the Conservatives would be unable to match Labour's long-term commitment to the area. Former Conservative science minister, Robert Jackson, who has now joined the Labour party said: “In the Conservative world science is seen as just another lobby. That is the background to a pretty dismal record.”

30th September 2008

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