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Pharma news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news affecting the industry.

Scrushy evades judgment still

Richard Scrushy, former HealthSouth CEO but renowned more widely today for his alleged part in a $2.7bn fraud at the company, has continued to evade hearing a verdict from the jury, which said it could not reach a unanimous agreement until certain aspects of the case were explained more clearly in layman's terms. The jurors went on to request a meeting with the judge after their fourth day of deliberation over the future of Scrushy, the first business leader to be charged under the Sarbanes-Oxley (S-O) law, who could potentially be staring at a long spell in prison if found guilty. The jury's request for more information increased the likelihood of it becoming a hung jury, thereby forcing the prosecution to seek a second trial. It would be a significant blow to the government if Scrushy is not convicted, as all eyes are on this landmark S-O trial.

GSK steps towards Boots buy

The medicines arms of Boots (Boots Health International), which includes Nurofen, Strepsils and Clearasil and is said to be worth in the region of £1bn, is up for sale and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is an interested buyer. GSK has a significant consumer healthcare division already which pushes out big brands such as Panadol, Zovira and Aquafresh in return for around £3bn each year. At the firm's AGM last week, CEO Jean-Pierre Garnier confirmed that GSK would be ìlooking at the Boots opportunity when it becomes availableî - expected to be put on the market in July.

Faster market access for small EU firms

European industry commissioner, G¸nter Verheugen, will take steps to provide accelerated access to market for medicines made by small- and medium-sized companies in Europe in the hope of reviving innovation in the sector. He plans to bring his ideas before the European Commission during the summer, in time for the full handover of power, regarding regulation of the industry, to the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products (EMEA) in November. The EMEA will help small- and medium-sized companies to launch their products by involving them earlier in discussions about gaining approval through an accelerated centralised process as well as providing guidance on conducting clinical trials. ìThe aim is to improve innovation and accessibility,î Verheugen told the Financial Times Deutschland.

30th September 2008

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