Protection from Patent Dependence

Erik Greb PharmTech editorIn the current economic slump, generic versions of branded drugs have become a bigger thorn in innovators’ sides than before. To safeguard their profits for just a bit longer, many companies have paid generic-drug manufacturers to delay the introduction of their products to the market. US and European authorities have called these arrangements anticompetitive, though, and events on Capitol Hill last week indicate that they might not be tolerated much longer. Read more »

Pink Slips and Pipelines

Erik Greb PharmTech editorLast week we saw more signs that pharmaceutical megamegers bode ill for New Jersey workers. Business Week reported that Pfizer (New York) planned to close six research and development (R&D) facilities—some of its own, and some of Wyeth’s (Madison, NJ). Many of the 400 employees at Wyeth’s research offices in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, could be laid off. And last Wednesday, Richard Clark, CEO of Merck (Whitehouse Station, NJ), told attendees at a Goldman Sachs conference that research jobs at Schering-Plough’s (Kenilworth, NJ) headquarters could be eliminated to reduce costs. Read more »

Brain Trust or Brain Drain?

Erik Greb PharmTech editorHow do you boost a flagging pipeline? One strategy is to enlist more researchers to find promising drug candidates. Two heads are better than one, and the more minds applied to the task, the more likely they will find increasingly elusive new therapies. The Pfizer–Wyeth and Merck–Schering Plough mergers are partly based on this premise.

Trouble is, the premise might not hold water. Read more »

The Other New Jersey Giants

Erik Greb PharmTech editorIt’s déjà vu all over again. Little more than a month after Pfizer (New York) announced that it would acquire Wyeth (Madison, NJ), Merck (Whitehouse Station, NJ) and Schering-Plough (Kenilworth, NJ) have unveiled their own merger agreement. The combined company will be called Merck and be based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey. Schering-Plough CEO Fred Hassan will help during the merger, but Merck’s CEO Richard Clark will lead the combined company. Read more »

Pfizer & Wyeth: When the Going Gets Tough, the Big Get Bigger

Erik Greb PharmTech editorIt’s official. The wires had been buzzing with rumors for several days, and today Pfizer (New York) announced that it would acquire Wyeth (Madison, NJ) for about $68 billion. The transaction will bolster Pfizer’s pipeline and improve its biopharmaceutical portfolio with the addition of Wyeth’s “Prevnar” pneumococcal vaccine and “Enbrel” arthritis treatment. The resulting company will be so diversified that it expects that no drug will account for more than 10% of its revenue in 2012, according to a Pfizer press release. Read more »

Comfort for the Afflicted

Erik Greb PharmTech editorResearchers and doctors continue to sound warnings about the rise in the number of cases of diabetes, which is closely linked to the increasing proportion of overweight individuals. After a period of decline, the rate of new HIV infections is increasing, reminding us of the gravity of that threat to world health. And the debate about whether cell phones cause cancer has been revived by unsettling new studies.

When we remember that Big Pharma’s pipelines are still generally weak, these troubling facts seem more disturbing. The picture is not entirely black, though. Researchers are hopeful about treatments for at least one medical condition. Read more »

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