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May 27, 2015

Exclusive: Greece owes drugmakers $1.2 billion – and counting

LONDON (Reuters) – Cash-strapped Greece has racked up mounting debts with international drugmakers and now owes the industry more than 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion), a leading industry official said on Wednesday.

The rising unpaid bill reflects the growing struggle by the nearly bankrupt country to muster cash, and creates a dilemma for companies under moral pressure not to cut off supplies of life-saving medicines.

May 27, 2015

Novartis digs into health tech with bet on ‘robotic pill’

LONDON (Reuters) – Swiss drugmaker Novartis is raising its bet on smart technology by collaborating with U.S. start-up Rani Therapeutics on a “robotic pill” for complex biotech drugs that would normally have to be given by injection.

Rani said it would run feasibility studies over the next 18-24 months to evaluate how selected Novartis biologic medicines can be delivered into the bloodstream using its unique device.

May 26, 2015

AstraZeneca hit after psoriasis drug linked to suicide fears

LONDON, May 26 (Reuters) – AstraZeneca’s hopes of
topping $45 billion in revenue by 2023 have been dealt a blow by
a problem with an experimental psoriasis drug that the drugmaker
had viewed as a potential billion-dollar plus seller.

Amgen, its partner on the project, announced late
on Friday it was ending a collaboration to develop brodalumab
after suicidal thoughts were observed in patients taking the
medicine.

May 26, 2015

What’s hot? Life sciences challenge tech in global innovation

LONDON, May 26 (Reuters) – The life sciences industry is
increasingly taking over from the tech sector in driving global
innovation, according to a Thomson Reuters analysis of global
patents.

With more patents applied for or granted in 2014 than in any
other year in history, humankind has never been more inventive,
whether in designing driverless cars, discovering new drugs for
cancer or building bionic limbs.

May 19, 2015

Amgen cholesterol drug could get EU green light this week

LONDON, May 19 (Reuters) – Amgen’s new cholesterol
drug Repatha could be recommended for approval in Europe as
early as this week, putting it ahead in a race with a rival
product from Sanofi.

Repatha, or evolocumab, belongs to a new class of
cholesterol-lowering drugs known as PCSK9 inhibitors that
clinical trials suggest may slash the risks of heart attacks
compared to standard treatment alone.

May 19, 2015

How to build the universe from Lego, over a pint of beer

LONDON, May 19 (Reuters) – In a central London pub, a young
bearded physicist is demonstrating how to build a model of the
universe from plastic Lego bricks. Clue: you need a lot of them.

Across town, in different bars, other experts are probing
the mysteries of cancer and dementia, life on other planets, and
how to win a Nobel prize.

May 13, 2015

AstraZeneca drug combination on track to fight lung cancer

By Ben Hirschler

(Reuters) – A closely watched immune system-boosting drug cocktail from Britain’s AstraZeneca shows promise in advanced lung cancer, despite adverse side effects in a number of patients.

Researchers said on Wednesday that the combination of the experimental drugs MEDI4736 and tremelimumab had “a manageable safety profile with evidence of clinical activity, including in PD-L1 negative disease”.

May 12, 2015

AstraZeneca digs into precision medicine with lung, heart deals

LONDON (Reuters) – AstraZeneca is diving deeper into personalized healthcare with two projects that move the concept beyond cancer into respiratory disorders and heart disease.

Personalized or precision medicine, which tailors treatment to a patient’s genetic profile, is an increasing focus for drug companies, especially after an initiative from U.S. President Barack Obama in January.

May 11, 2015

Hunt for AIDS cure accelerates as GSK and U.S. experts link up

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline, which decided last week to retain rather than float off its HIV drugs business, is to collaborate with U.S. scientists in developing a cure for AIDS.

Until recently, many researchers were reluctant to even discuss the possibility of curing the disease caused by HIV, which infects 35 million people worldwide, since the obstacles seemed insurmountable.

May 7, 2015

New GSK chairman backs CEO Witty to stay at helm

LONDON, May 7 (Reuters) – GlaxoSmithKline’s new
chairman Philip Hampton has thrown his support behind the
company’s current structure and chief executive despite pressure
from some shareholders for a change.

In his first comments since becoming chairman at the
conclusion of the drugmaker’s annual meeting on Thursday,
Hampton told reporters he hoped that CEO Andrew Witty would
continue to run GSK for a good length of time.

    • 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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