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Sep 14, 2015

U.S., China, UK experts to tackle vexed issue of gene editing

LONDON, Sept 14 (Reuters) – Scientists from the United
States, China and Britain will come together to discuss the
future of human gene editing, which holds great promise for
treating diseases but also has the potential to create “designer

The Chinese Academy of Sciences and Britain’s Royal Society
said on Monday they would join the U.S. National Academy of
Sciences in co-hosting an international summit on the topic in
Washington on Dec. 1-3.

Sep 10, 2015

Pfizer loses UK patent case over use of Lyrica drug in pain

LONDON, Sept 10 (Reuters) – Pfizer suffered a major
setback in Britain on Thursday when the High Court in London
ruled that claims of patent protection for the use of its $5
billion-a-year drug Lyrica as a pain treatment were invalid.

Lyrica, known generically as pregabalin, was originally
developed for epilepsy. However, further research showed it
could also help patients suffering from neuropathic pain and
most prescriptions are now written for pain.

Sep 10, 2015

IBA sees barriers falling as proton beams tested in more cancers

LONDON (Reuters) – Proton-beam therapy may need the world’s most expensive medical machines but barriers to its use are falling fast as doctors test the super precise form of radiation in the treatment of a widening range of cancers, according to the leader in the field.

Belgium’s Ion Beam Applications (IBA), which has a market share of around 50 percent, has a growing pipeline of potential proton therapy business worth more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), its finance chief Jean-Marc Bothy said.

Sep 10, 2015

Greece lifts ban on re-export of medicines

Sept 10 (Reuters) – Greece has lifted a ban on the re-export
of medicines, which had been imposed for certain drugs in July
at the height of concerns about possible shortages that risked
leading to a humanitarian crisis.

The National Medicines Agency said the temporary block on
wholesalers buying drugs in Greece and selling them at higher
prices elsewhere in Europe had been ended.

Sep 9, 2015

GlaxoSmithKline lung drug fails to extend life in huge study

Sept 9 (Reuters) – GlaxoSmithKline’s inhaled
medicine Breo failed to prolong life in patients with chronic
respiratory disease in a high-stakes clinical trial of 16,500
people, torpedoing hopes of a sales boost for the drug.

Shares in Britain’s biggest drugmaker fell 1.5 percent on
Wednesday, lagging a strong London market, in reaction to the
news announced by the company and its partner Theravance
late on Tuesday. Theravance plunged 15 percent.

Sep 7, 2015

Companies struggle to get new medicines adopted across Europe

LONDON (Reuters) – Pharmaceutical companies, currently enjoying a bumper wave of new drug launches, are struggling to get recently introduced products adopted in key European markets as governments bear down on costs.

While a number countries have pledged in recent years to encourage the use of innovative medicines, Europe remains a much tougher market than the United States, prompting many companies to offer significant price discounts.

Sep 4, 2015

WHO sounds alarm over big Indian supplier of tuberculosis drugs

LONDON/MUMBAI (Reuters) – A major Indian supplier of tuberculosis drugs to developing countries has been severely criticized by the World Health Organization for inadequate manufacturing standards and poor testing procedures.

The United Nations agency issued a warning letter to Mumbai-based Svizera Labs, part of Maneesh Pharmaceuticals, stating that the approval and use of its products would be suspended if “critical and major observations are not corrected within a reasonable time frame”.

Sep 4, 2015

AstraZeneca wins U.S. approval for longer use of blood thinner

By Bill Berkrot and Ben Hirschler

(Reuters) – U.S. regulators have approved a new dose of AstraZeneca’s blood thinner Brilinta for longer-term use in patients with a history of heart attacks, boosting prospects for a drug the company thinks will eventually sell $3.5 billion a year.

The green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), announced late on Thursday, could theoretically more than double the number of people eligible for the medicine.

Sep 3, 2015

Scientists turn to aspirin to turbo-charge cancer immunotherapy

LONDON (Reuters) – Giving cheap aspirin to cancer patients may turbo-charge the effectiveness of expensive new medicines that help their immune systems fight tumors, experiments on mice suggest.

Immunotherapy promises to revolutionize cancer care by offering a better, longer-lasting response with fewer adverse side effects than conventional treatment, but the new drugs do not work well in all cases.

Sep 3, 2015

Novartis makes history with U.S. launch of ‘biosimilar’ drug

ZURICH/LONDON (Reuters) – Novartis kicked off a new era in U.S. medicine on Thursday with the launch of the first “biosimilar” copy of a biotechnology drug approved in the United States, following a green light from a U.S. appeals court.

Novartis unit Sandoz said Zarxio, its form of Amgen’s white blood cell-boosting product Neupogen, would increase access to an important treatment by offering a “high-quality, more affordable version”.

    • 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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