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Nov 17, 2014

Merck’s Zetia cuts heart attack, stroke risk in long-awaited study

CHICAGO (Reuters) – After years of uncertainty, a nearly decade-long study showed that Merck & Co’s cholesterol drug Zetia significantly lowered the risk of heart attacks and strokes in high-risk heart patients when used with a highly effective statin.

The data, released Monday, proves that Zetia – widely used for a dozen years due to its ability to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels – provides important protection to some patients, and supports a theory that bringing LDL down to very low levels adds further benefit.

Nov 16, 2014

Extended anti-clotting therapy cut heart attacks after stent -study

CHICAGO, Nov 16 (Reuters) – Patients who took two
anti-clotting drugs for 30 months after undergoing a heart stent
placement significantly cut their risk of heart attacks and
blood clots in the stent compared with patients receiving the
dual therapy for the standard 12 months, a clinical trial
showed.

In this five-year study of nearly 10,000 patients who had
received drug-coated stents in an artery clearing procedure, the
rate of heart attacks was 2.1 percent for those who received
dual anti-clotting therapy for 30 months. The rate was 4.1
percent for those who got aspirin and a placebo after 12 months
of dual therapy, researchers reported.

Nov 12, 2014

Future of Merck cholesterol sales could hang on long-awaited study

By Bill Berkrot and Ransdell Pierson

(Reuters) – A nine-year, 18,000-patient study of Merck & Co’s $4 billion Zetia and Vytorin cholesterol franchise is likely to show some benefit but keep open the question of whether it can significantly reduce heart attacks, strokes and death.

The Improve-It trial is aimed at determining whether Zetia – which is also combined with Merck’s now generic statin Zocor (simvastatin) to make Vytorin – does more than reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream, the basis for which it was approved.

Nov 10, 2014

Merck 4-week hep C regimen with Gilead’s Sovaldi comes up short

Nov 9 (Reuters) – An attempt by Merck & Co to
shorten hepatitis C treatment to just four weeks by adding
Gilead Sciences Inc’s huge selling Sovaldi to its own oral
two-drug combination came nowhere near the desired efficacy due
to a high rate of relapses, according to interim data from a
midstage study.

Several companies have been working to find ways to further
reduce the number of weeks of treatment needed, while keeping
cure rates above 90 percent.

Nov 9, 2014

Insight: After hep C cure, companies target next big liver disease market

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Now that new medicines promise to cure millions of hepatitis C patients in coming years, drugmakers including Gilead Sciences Inc are turning their attention to other liver diseases, with a potential market that could rival the success of statins, which generated more than $30 billion a year in sales at their peak.

Several companies are working on treatments for hepatitis B, which can be controlled but not yet cured, and for fatty liver conditions caused by rising obesity, which without treatment could affect half of all Americans by 2030, according to the American Liver Foundation (ALF). Some of the drugs will address advanced fibrosis and cirrhosis, which are the scarring that virtually all liver diseases cause without effective treatments. Each of these drugs, once approved, could reach annual sales of as much as $10 billion, industry analysts said.

Nov 9, 2014

After hepatitis C cure, companies target next big liver disease market

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Now that new medicines promise to cure millions of hepatitis C patients in coming years, drugmakers including Gilead Sciences Inc are turning their attention to other liver diseases, with a potential market that could rival the success of statins, which generated more than $30 billion a year in sales at their peak.

Several companies are working on treatments for hepatitis B, which can be controlled but not yet cured, and for fatty liver conditions caused by rising obesity, which without treatment could affect half of all Americans by 2030, according to the American Liver Foundation (ALF). Some of the drugs will address advanced fibrosis and cirrhosis, which are the scarring that virtually all liver diseases cause without effective treatments. Each of these drugs, once approved, could reach annual sales of as much as $10 billion, industry analysts said.

Nov 9, 2014

After hep C cure, companies target next big liver disease market

NEW YORK, Nov 9 (Reuters) – Now that new medicines promise
to cure millions of hepatitis C patients in coming years,
drugmakers including Gilead Sciences Inc are turning their
attention to other liver diseases, with a potential market that
could rival the success of statins, which generated more than
$30 billion a year in sales at their peak.

Several companies are working on treatments for hepatitis B,
which can be controlled but not yet cured, and for fatty liver
conditions caused by rising obesity, which without treatment
could affect half of all Americans by 2030, according to the
American Liver Foundation (ALF). Some of the drugs will address
advanced fibrosis and cirrhosis, which are the scarring that
virtually all liver diseases cause without effective treatments.
Each of these drugs, once approved, could reach annual sales of
as much as $10 billion, industry analysts said.

Nov 1, 2014

U.S. envoy Power defends Ebola guidelines, warns on Guinea

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on Friday defended federal guidelines for monitoring health workers returning from three Ebola-stricken West African countries while urging greater coordination to contain the outbreak in Guinea.

There is a growing controversy in the United States over some states ordering 21-day quarantines for nurses and doctors returning after treating Ebola patients, an idea that medical experts have criticized.

Oct 31, 2014

U.S. envoy to U.N. defends Ebola guidelines; praises airlines

NEW YORK, Oct 31 (Reuters) – U.S. Ambassador to the United
Nations Samantha Power on Friday defended federal guidelines for
monitoring health workers returning from three Ebola-stricken
West African countries and praised the airlines still flying
there.

Amid controversy in the United States over some states
ordering 21-day quarantines for nurses and doctors returning
home after treating Ebola patients, Power said current federal
rules balanced “the need to respond to the fears that this has
generated” with the known science on the disease.

Oct 31, 2014

Samantha Power defends Ebola guidelines; praises airlines

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power on Friday defended federal guidelines for monitoring health workers returning from three Ebola-stricken West African countries and praised the airlines still flying there.

“Let me commend Air Brussels, Air France and Moroccan Airways for keeping their flights going. Those flights are a lifeline,” Powers said at a Reuters Newsmaker event in New York hours after returning from a four-day trip to Ebola-hit Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, with a quick stop to drop her son off at school.

    • About Bill

      "Based in New York, I primarily cover the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors as well as other publicly traded companies involved in health care. Previously covered a wide range of sports for Reuters."
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