Senior Correspondent, London
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Apr 24, 2015

Bristol wins EU green light for immune system cancer drug

LONDON (Reuters) – European regulators have recommended approval of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo, paving the way for it to become the first of a closely watched group of immune system-boosting cancer medicines to go on sale in Europe.

The drug, also known as nivolumab, was given a green light on Friday by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for the treatment of melanoma. It is already approved in the United States for melanoma and lung cancer.

Apr 24, 2015

AstraZeneca insists Celgene deal about strategy, not cash

LONDON, April 24 (Reuters) – AstraZeneca is getting
a $450 million windfall by letting Celgene develop a
prized immunotherapy drug for blood cancers but its chief
executive insists the deal is about strategy, not cash.

Some investors are worried about the drugmaker’s reliance on
such “externalisation” deals to fill a short-term revenue gap.
Deutsche Bank analyst Richard Parkers said income from these
agreements was of “questionable sustainability”.

Apr 24, 2015

AstraZeneca looks beyond Nexium hit with new cancer deals

LONDON, April 24 (Reuters) – AstraZeneca has
sharpened its focus on cancer drugs with two new deals as it
looks beyond a hit to sales and profits from the launch of cheap
copies of its popular stomach acid pill Nexium in the vital U.S.
market.

The drugmaker, which saw off a $118 billion bid by Pfizer
last year, said on Friday its sales fell by a slightly
less-than-expected 6 percent in the first quarter, hurt by
Nexium generics and the strong dollar, its reporting currency.

Apr 22, 2015

Bees may get hooked on nicotine-linked pesticides

LONDON (Reuters) – Bees may be getting hooked on nectar laced with widely used nicotine-related chemicals in pesticides they cannot even taste, in the same way humans are addicted to cigarettes, new research has found.

Adding to evidence of potential harm from the chemicals, another field-scale study published on Wednesday also found that exposure to so-called neonicotinoids affects reproduction and colony growth in some bee species.

Apr 22, 2015

Gilead uses Georgia as free-drug testbed for hepatitis C elimination

LONDON (Reuters) – Gilead Sciences is seeking to convince governments and multilateral agencies worldwide that hepatitis C can be eliminated with a demonstration project in Georgia offering free drugs to all those who need them.

The unprecedented program will make the Caucasian country a testbed for uprooting the liver-destroying disease, using Gilead’s highly effective but costly pill Sovaldi, plus its newer product Harvoni once approved.

Apr 22, 2015

Roche more confident in beating Alzheimer’s after Biogen data

LONDON (Reuters) – Swiss drugmaker Roche has “renewed confidence” that drugs targeting potentially brain-destroying plaque can fight Alzheimer’s disease, following promising results with a product from a rival.

Pharmaceuticals head Daniel O’Day said on Wednesday Roche would look again at prospects for two of its experimental Alzheimer’s drugs, both of which suffered setbacks in 2014, in the wake of recent data on Biogen’s drug.

Apr 21, 2015

Analysis: Healthy eating sparks M&A on blurring frontier between food and drugs

LONDON (Reuters) – A boom in “nutraceuticals” – food and
drinks with potential health benefits – is paving the way for a
rush of deals, as food and drug companies compete to dominate a
market expected to be worth $280 billion by 2018.

Consumers have been encouraged to eat smarter by an obesity
epidemic and a burst of fitness-focused technology like gadgets
and apps to track exercise and calorie intake. Now companies
supplying goods like probiotic yoghurt, advertised as being
healthier for the gut, and omega-3 biscuits, thought to improve
brain and heart function, have seen demand rise sharply.

Apr 21, 2015

Healthy eating sparks M&A on blurring frontier between food and drugs

LONDON (Reuters) – A boom in “nutraceuticals” – food and drinks with potential health benefits – is paving the way for a rush of deals, as food and drug companies compete to dominate a market expected to be worth $280 billion by 2018.

Consumers have been encouraged to eat smarter by an obesity epidemic and a burst of fitness-focused technology like gadgets and apps to track exercise and calorie intake. Now companies supplying goods like probiotic yogurt, advertised as being healthier for the gut, and omega-3 biscuits, thought to improve brain and heart function, have seen demand rise sharply.

Apr 15, 2015

AstraZeneca science is on the move, one year on from Pfizer bid

LONDON (Reuters) – Having seen off a hostile $118 billion bid launched a year ago by U.S. rival Pfizer, Anglo-Swedish company AstraZeneca is on the move — quite literally.

As of last month, a four-days-a-week service set up by the drugmaker with Sun Air is connecting staff in its new Cambridge science and operations hub with those in Gothenburg, the group’s other major European center.

Apr 10, 2015

Venture capitalists ride biotech wave one drug at a time

LONDON (Reuters) – How many people does it take to run a successful biotech company? Just two, judging by the sale of XO1, a one-drug British firm snapped up last month by Johnson & Johnson.

Ten years on from pioneering an ultra-lean business model focused on investing in “virtual” companies with a single experimental medicine, XO1′s backer Index Ventures is chalking up some notable wins.

    • 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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