Senior Correspondent, London
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Jul 22, 2015

AstraZeneca suffers setback as drug fails in eye cancer

LONDON (Reuters) – AstraZeneca’s much anticipated cancer drug pipeline suffered a modest blow on Wednesday when the experimental drug selumetinib failed to meet its goal in a late-stage trial for a rare cancer of the eye.

The drugmaker said the disappointing result in uveal melanoma would not affect other studies using the drug. Selumetinib is being investigated primarily as a treatment for advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

Jul 21, 2015

Novartis eyecare and dollar hit offset strong generics

July 21 (Reuters) – Novartis was hit by a weak
performance from eyecare division Alcon and a strong dollar in
the second-quarter, prompting the Swiss drugmaker to keep its
2015 financial outlook unchanged.

The difficulties at Alcon reflected lower sales of contact
lenses, intraocular lenses and surgical equipment, offsetting a
solid showing in pharmaceuticals and an impressive sales jump
within the Sandoz generics business.

Jul 20, 2015

The $100 million question: are we alone in the cosmos?

SAN FRANCISCO/LONDON (Reuters) – Scientists are about to embark on the biggest search yet for alien life, sweeping the skies for signals of civilizations beyond our solar system with $100 million from a Russian billionaire and the backing of physicist Stephen Hawking.

Whether we are alone in the universe has engaged minds down the ages, and the recent discovery that there may be tens of billions of habitable planets in our galaxy alone has added urgency to finding an answer.

Jul 10, 2015

Cell therapy gets a boost as ReNeuron raises $105 million

LONDON (Reuters) – The drug research field of cell therapy received a boost on Friday when British biotech company ReNeuron raised 68.4 million pounds ($106 million) to help fund its work into stroke, blindness and cancer.

ReNeuron, which has been toiling away at developing stem cell treatments since being founded in 1997, said it was the largest funding round in the cell therapy sector globally this year.

Jul 10, 2015

Regulators tighten scrutiny of India clinical research firms

MUMBAI/LONDON (Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organisation have intensified investigations into India’s clinical research firms, industry officials said, after recent probes revealed two leading firms had violated standards.

The scrutiny is likely to further hurt India’s reputation as a global pharmaceutical hub, as it follows sanctions imposed by the FDA and other regulators on Indian generic drugmakers over manufacturing quality lapses.

Jul 8, 2015

Gene therapy for deafness moves a few steps closer

LONDON (Reuters) – Gene therapy for deafness is moving closer to reality, with new research on Wednesday showing the technique for fixing faulty DNA can improve responses in mice with genetic hearing loss.

Separately, a clinical trial backed by Novartis is under way to help a different group of people who have lost their hearing through damage or disease.

Jul 7, 2015

Novartis wins early U.S. approval for major new heart drug

By Ben Hirschler

(Reuters) – Novartis AG on Tuesday won U.S. approval for its keenly awaited new heart failure drug Entresto earlier than expected, boosting hopes for a medicine tipped by analysts to reap billions of dollars in annual sales.

The Swiss drugmaker had previously said U.S. approval was likely in August.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a statement that the drug had been shown to reduce the rate of cardiovascular death and hospitalization related to heart failure, and could help patients live longer and enjoy more active lives. (

Jul 7, 2015

Another Indian firm under fire for shoddy clinical trials work

LONDON/MUMBAI (Reuters) – Another Indian clinical research organisation, Quest Life Sciences of Chennai, is in trouble over defective trials work, according to a warning issued by the World Health Organization.

The action by the United Nations health agency follows an earlier scandal over drug testing at GVK Biosciences, which resulted in approvals for hundreds of generic drugs being withdrawn in Europe.

Jul 6, 2015

Greece has three to four months of medicine supplies, industry says

LONDON, July 6 (Reuters) – Greece has enough medicine to
last three to four months and drugmakers said on Monday that
they would continue supplying the country for now, despite
increased financial uncertainty after Greeks rejected austerity
terms of a bailout.

The pharmaceuticals industry is owed more than 1.1 billion
euros ($1.2 billion) by Greek hospitals and the state-run health
insurer for unpaid bills since December but has promised to keep
supply lines open on humanitarian grounds.

Jul 6, 2015

Drug companies still supplying Greece after ‘No’ vote

LONDON (Reuters) – Pharmaceutical companies said on Monday they would continue to supply medicines to Greece for now, despite increased financial uncertainty after Greeks rejected the terms of a rescue package from creditors in a referendum.

Drugmakers are owned more than 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) by Greek hospitals and the state-run health insurer, after not being paid since December, but have promised to keep supplying the country on humanitarian grounds.

    • 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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