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R&D news in brief

Our weekly round-up of drug discovery and development stories

Pfizer R&D jobs cut

Pfizer has confirmed that 100 staff at its UK R&D department are set to lose their jobs as part of its global restructuring plan to cut costs by $4bn (£2.3bn) over four years. A Pfizer spokesman said the company would try to move some of the scientists affected to other jobs within its base in Sandwich, Kent. By 2010, Pfizer will have lost exclusive patents for 11 drugs, including Lipitor, its cholesterol blockbuster.

Anti-obesity jab

Injections of a gut hormone that suppresses appetite could help to tackle the problem of obesity, a study from Imperial College and Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust has found. In the four-week trial looking at 26 people who were either overweight or obese, patients injected with the hormone oxyntomodulin lost on average 2.3kg (5lbs) in four weeks, compared to 0.5kg (1lb) for those on a dummy treatment. Oxyntomodulin is normally released from the small intestine as food is consumed.

Roche urges union against HIV/AIDS

Roche has called for rival drug companies to join forces in the battle against the spread of HIV/AIDS by conducting joint clinical studies. David Reddy, head of the antiviral franchise at Roche, told the Financial Times that the company was willing to collaborate in the development of new HIV/AIDS treatments as it was essential to provide patients with a cocktail of medicines, of which the individual constituents are often made by different manufacturers. Reddy also stressed the importance of moves to make compliance easier, such as Roche's shift from capsules to higher dose tablets.

Male `pill' still possible

Schering and Organon believe that changing patterns of behaviour mean that there is a market for their drug in development, the first-ever hormonal contraceptive drug to be taken by men, dubbed ìthe male pillî. In a recent Schering-commissioned study, 55 per cent of respondents said they were willing to try the new fertility control method. Phase II trial results are expected next year.

Vitamin claim lawsuit

AIDS advocacy group Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) is suing a German physician and vitamins salesman for defamation in a Cape Town lawsuit. Dr Matthias Rath claimed that antiretroviral drugs are toxic and allegedly described TAC as a ìTrojan horse for the pharmaceutical industryî. In April, Dr Rath drew criticism from the World Health Organisation for releasing a newspaper advertisement claiming vitamin treatments reversed the course of AIDS.

30th September 2008

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