Roche’s $1 Billion Bet on Stapled Peptides

Patricia Van Arnum PharmTech editor Roche (Basel, Switzerland) announced last week that it signed a drug-development deal worth up to $1.1 billion with the biopharmaceutical company Aileron Therapeutics (Cambridge, MA) to discover, develop, and commercialize “stapled peptides,” or drug candidates that use peptide-stabilization technology to enhance potency and cell permeability. So are stapled peptides a potential magic bullet in biopharmaceutical development? Read more »

Repairing the Engine of Drug Innovation

Patricia Van Arnum PharmTech editor

In a speech last week to the City Club of San Diego, John Lechleiter, chairman and chief executive officer of Eli Lilly, offered very candid remarks about the state of innovation in the pharmaceutical industry, saying that the engine of biopharmaceutical innovation is “broken.” His comments may be a bitter pill to swallow in light of escalating investment in research and development (R&D), but his frankness may just be the remedy the industry needs to reinvent itself. Read more »

Sanofi and Shantha: Cousin, Cousine

Erik Greb PharmTech editorReading the news sometimes gives me a disorienting sense of déjà vu. I know I wrote that last week, but it’s true again for a different reason. Today, French heavyweight sanofi aventis (Paris) announced that it was acquiring a majority stake in Shantha Biotechnics (Hyderabad, India). This new development follows a now-familiar pattern. Read more »

Wyeth Says Yes to Pfizer Takeover

Maribel Rios PharmTech editorTo no one’s surprise, Wyeth shareholders approved yesterday the $68-billion merger agreement with Pfizer. The vote was overwhelming: 98% in favor. The final step is the approval by the Federal Trade Commission and international regulators. The mega deal, one in three this year (Merck and Schering Plough; and Roche and Genentech) emphasizes the bottom-line industry mantra: diversify to compete. Read more »

The Changing Face of PhRMA

Patricia Van Arnum PharmTech editor The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) announced this week that it is creating a new committee of its board of directors dedicated to small biopharmaceutical companies. The committee will be composed of full and research associate members. In a separate item, late last month, Roche confirmed that it was leaving PhRMA to join the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the US-based trade group representing the biotechnology industry, in the wake of Roche’s recent acquisition of Genentech. Taken on one level, these moves simply reflect an organizational change by a well-established association to better serve and broaden its membership and the strategic shift of one member company. On another level, however, these moves reveal broader dynamics shaping the focus of the pharmaceutical industry. Read more »

Could New Jersey Lose its Pharma Edge?

Angie Drakulich PharmTech editorDriving to the office today, I heard a talk by Bob Franks, president of the Healthcare Institute of New Jersey, on the local radio station 101.5FM. Although New Jersey spent $7 billion on R&D in 2008, said Franks, the state stands a chance of losing its stance as the pharma capital of the US—and really of the world—in the coming years. Not only are China, Singapore, and Ireland taking R&D as well as manufacturing dollars out of the state, but New Jersey-based pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies also face stiff competition close to home. 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 »

Biologics: A Gamble or Safe Bet?

Patricia Van Arnum PharmTech editorPfizer announced this week that following a successful completion of its $68-billion acquisition of Wyeth, it will divide its research activities into two separate organizations, one for small molecules and one for biologics and vaccines. The reorganization is but a microcosm of Big Pharma’s larger strategic interest to strengthen its position in biologics with the hopes of improving its return on research and development (R&D). But is the calculus of intensifying R&D into biologics correct? Read more »

Eli Lilly Interested in Smaller Acquisitions, Not Mega-Merger

Alexis Brekke Pellek PharmTech editorEli Lilly & Co. (Indianapolis) CEO John Lechleiter earlier this week told the Financial Times that he is not interested in becoming part of the recent mega-merger trend (see Pfizer+Wyeth, Merck+Schering-Plough and Roche+Genentech). Rumors and speculation have had some thinking Lilly+Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) would be the next big thing, but Lechleiter specifically ended rumors of that combination and remained critical of Big Pharma’s recent big deals. Read more »

Innovators Attempt a Technical Knockout

Erik Greb PharmTech editorWhen faced with determined opponents, sports teams sometimes work the referees to win the game. A victory based on an interpretation of the rules is a victory nonetheless. The team of Warner Chilcott (Rockaway, NJ), Medicis Pharmaceutical (Scottsdale, AZ), Roche (Basel), and Stiefel Laboratories (Coral Gables, FL) recently used this tactic in their competition with generic drugmakers. The companies filed citizen petitions with the US Food and Drug Administration in an attempt to delay the approval of generic versions of their antibiotics. Read more »

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