Vaccines Finding Their Way in Novel Applications

Patricia Van Arnum PharmTech editor GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Biologics and Nabi Pharmaceuticals announced this week that the companies are partnering to develop an investigational vaccine for treating nicotine addition and preventing smoking relapse. The announcement is an interesting example of a novel application for a vaccine. Read more »

Is Big Pharma Choosing Patients over Patents?

Erik Greb PharmTech editorThe pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industries have jealously guarded their intellectual property for years. Companies routinely use patents to prevent competitors from making generic versions of their drugs. When pipelines have weakened, companies have developed new formulations or delivery methods to extend patent protection for their established drugs. The economic crisis has only sharpened this reflex.

That’s why news from Ecuador made me do a doubletake. Read more »

Equality for Boys?

Erik Greb PharmTech editorI’ve been paying attention to Merck’s (Whitehouse Station, NJ) Gardasil vaccine ever since I first heard of it because it’s a subject that combines biopharmaceuticals, gender issues, and the politics of public health. At first, critics contended that giving young girls Merck’s human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine would not just prevent cervical cancer, but also promote promiscuity. This concern may have subsided, but two new wrinkles in the Gardasil story came to light on Friday. Read more »

Pharma Celebrates its Own

Michelle Hoffman PharmTech editorFall is upon us and so is the awards season. And I’m not talking about the Emmy’s (although kudos to Mad Men). Earlier this month the Lasker Foundation gave out its Basic Medical Research Award, its Lasker-deBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, and the Mary Woodard Lasker Award for Public Service (see the Lasker Foundation website for more information). Next week the Nobel Committee will announce its award winners.

But last night belonged to the Pharmaceutical Industry. Read more »

Can Insurance Companies Help Improve Health?

Angie Drakulich PharmTech editorUnitedHealth Group, a Minneapolis-based healthcare company, recently announced that it would soon provide a price break to members who correctly use certain asthma and antidepressant drugs. The news was reported in a Wall Street Journal article by Peter Loftus of Dow Jones Newswires.  

To get the $20 copay discount, members must refill their prescriptions within about 30 days after their last prescription runs out. Eligible drugs include GlaxoSmithKline’s Advair, AstraZeneca’s Symbicort, Eli Lilly’s Cymbalta, Wyeth’s Effexor XR, and Wyeth’s Pristiq. The discount applies to members who have a normal copay of $50 on these drugs, meaning the new copay would be $30, according to Loftus’ article. Read more »

Black Box Warning for Two Anti-Smoking Drugs

Alexis Brekke Pellek PharmTech editorThe US Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday it is requiring a black box warning for two drugs used to aid smoking cessation, Chantix (varenicline, Pfizer, New York) and Zyban (bupropion, GlaxoSmithKline, London). Read more »

Big Pharma’s “BRIC and Mortar” Strategy

Patricia Van Arnum PharmTech editor The first-ever BRIC Economic Summit was held this week in Yekaterinburg, Russia, further signaling the importance of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, collectively known as the BRIC countries, in the current and future direction of the global economy. Some predict that the BRIC countries will surpass the leading economies by 2050, according to a recent New York Times article. The seeds of change already have been planted in the pharmaceutical industry, where pharmaceutical market growth in emerging economies is projected in the double-digits in 2009, compared with declining to anemic growth in established markets. Big Pharma is attuned to the shifting market dynamics. Many companies have clearly stated their strategic intent to enhance their positions in emerging markets. But what are the implications for pharmaceutical manufacturing? We may have gotten a glimpse into the future with some recent moves by Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Read more »

A NME Letdown for Emerging Pharma

Patricia Van Arnum PharmTech editor “To the victor belongs the spoils,” goes the saying, but two emerging pharmaceutical companies, Epix Pharmaceuticals and Progenics Pharmaceuticals, show how difficult it is for smaller pharmaceutical companies to live up to that axiom during the financial downturn. Both companies earned a coveted prize in 2008, FDA approval of a new molecular entity (NME), and both have collaboration agreements with Big Pharma. But as is the case with many companies, restructuring and strategies for cash conservation are the order of the day. Read more »

Don’t Throw Out Your Old Drugs Just Yet

Angie Drakulich PharmTech editorIn response to the swine-flu outbreak, the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) last week authorized the use of Tamiflu (oseltamivir) capsules up to two years after the drug’s prescribed expiration dates. EMEA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) specifically extended the shelf-life of Tamiflu 75 mg, 45 mg, and 30 mg hard capsules from 5 to 7 years. Read more »

Mosquito Season is Year-Round for Some; GSK Seeks to Help

Angie Drakulich PharmTech editorMosquitos are on my mind today. Not only am I looking to find a good mosquito trap machine for my backyard before the summer season begins, but I learned that this Saturday, Apr. 25, is World Malaria Day. As most people know, malaria is a deadly mosquito-born disease. According to Roll Back Malaria (RBM), a United Nations initiative, a child dies from malaria every 30 seconds. The disease takes nearly 1 million lives every year and affects nearly 1 billion people in 109 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Read more »

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