Senior Correspondent, London
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Jul 3, 2015

Row breaks out over Greek medicine supplies

LONDON, July 3 (Reuters) – Wholesalers trading medicines
across European borders have criticised a suggestion by
manufacturers that Greek exports should be restricted to prevent
shortages of life-saving drugs in the country.

Such trade, which allows traders to buy products in low-cost
markets and sell them where prices are higher, is allowed under
EU free trade rules. But drugmakers have argued this could suck
supplies out of Greece if Athens leaves the euro and prices in
euro terms fall sharply.

Jul 2, 2015

Insight – Superbug threat prompts West to revisit Soviet-era virus therapy

LONDON (Reuters) – Alarmed by rising resistance to antibiotics, the main line of defence against bacterial infections, scientists and governments are taking a fresh look at bacteria-chomping viruses first isolated a century ago from the stools of patients recovering from dysentery.

So-called bacteriophages, which attack bacteria but leave human cells unscathed, are still used in Russia, Georgia and Poland, but fell by the wayside in the West with the mass production of penicillin, the first antibiotic, in the 1940s.

Jul 2, 2015

Superbug threat prompts West to revisit Soviet-era virus therapy

LONDON, July 2 (Reuters) – Alarmed by rising resistance to
antibiotics, the main line of defence against bacterial
infections, scientists and governments are taking a fresh look
at bacteria-chomping viruses first isolated a century ago from
the stools of patients recovering from dysentery.

So-called bacteriophages, which attack bacteria but leave
human cells unscathed, are still used in Russia, Georgia and
Poland, but fell by the wayside in the West with the mass
production of penicillin, the first antibiotic, in the 1940s.

Jun 30, 2015

Novartis to test new pricing model with heart failure drug

BASEL, Switzerland (Reuters) – Novartis plans to test a novel pricing model with some customers when it launches its keenly awaited new heart failure drug Entresto, the Swiss company’s head of pharmaceuticals said on Tuesday.

Entresto, also known as LCZ696, is the first new drug in decades for helping patients whose lives are in danger because their hearts cannot pump blood efficiently. As a result, it is widely expected to generate billions of dollars in annual sales.

Jun 29, 2015

Novartis buys pain drug firm Spinifex for $200 million upfront

BASEL, Switzerland (Reuters) – Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG (NOVN.VX: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) boosted its presence in pain management on Monday by agreeing to buy U.S.-Australian biotech firm Spinifex Pharmaceuticals, the companies said in separate statements on Monday.

Spinifex said Novartis was paying $200 million upfront and Spinifex shareholders could get further payments based on clinical development and regulatory milestones. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of this year, pending regulatory approval.

Jun 29, 2015

Drugmakers warn Greek medicine supply ‘may be in jeopardy’

BASEL, Switzerland (Reuters) – Drugmakers said on Monday they would continue to ship medicines to Greece in coming weeks, despite mounting unpaid bills, but warned supplies could be in jeopardy if Europe did not take emergency action.

“In the worst-case scenario of ‘Grexit’, we believe the

integrity of the medicines supply chain may be in jeopardy, which would create a risk to public health,” the industry’s trade association said in a letter to the European Commission.

Jun 28, 2015

New data fuel hopes for broad use of Novartis psoriasis drug

BASEL, Switzerland, June 29 (Reuters) – Novartis
is increasingly confident about the potential of its new
injectable drug Cosentyx, as fresh clinical data confirms its
long-term benefits in treating psoriatic arthritis.

Cosentyx was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration in January for treating the painful skin
condition plaque psoriasis, but the company also has high hopes
for the product in related conditions.

Jun 25, 2015

Scientists crack gene secret that lets poppies make morphine

LONDON, June 25 (Reuters) – Scientists have identified a key
gene used by poppies to make morphine, paving the way for better
methods of producing the medically important drug, potentially
without the need for cultivating poppy fields.

The latest finding follows recent success in engineering
brewer’s yeast to synthesise opiates such as morphine and
codeine from a common sugar, boosting the prospect of
“home-brew” drug supply.

Jun 25, 2015

Eli Lilly wins UK Alimta drug patent case on appeal, shares jump

LONDON (Reuters) – Eli Lilly has won a patent case in the Court of Appeal in London over its blockbuster Alimta lung cancer drug, boosting prospects for future sales and dealing a blow to generic challenger Actavis, now renamed Allergan.

Alimta generated worldwide sales of $2.79 billion for Lilly last year, making the medicine its biggest-selling product. Shares in the U.S. drugmaker jumped 5 percent on Thursday.

Jun 25, 2015

Gene-modified wheat at centre of row fails to repel aphids

LONDON, June 25 (Reuters) – A genetically engineered wheat
that gives off a special smell designed to repel aphids has
flopped in field-scale tests, underscoring the difficulty of
harnessing the controversial technology.

Scientists said the result was disappointing but they aim to
amend the process to do better in future, believing that genetic
modification (GM) offers a way to develop resilient crops that
don’t need to be sprayed with pesticides.

    • About Ben

      "Ben Hirschler is European pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and healthcare correspondent, based in London. Previously, he was in charge of British company news and before that was posted to Johannesburg, covering the economic challenges facing post-apartheid South Africa."
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