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Jan 15, 2015

Researchers find clues on how melanoma resists effective treatments

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Researchers believe they have discovered a mechanism by which tumors eventually evade effective combination treatments for melanoma, providing clues that could lead to longer-lasting therapies for the deadliest of skin cancers.

The two-year study, led by Dr. Roger Lo of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, looked at tumor samples from 15 melanoma patients prior to therapy that combined a BRAF inhibitor with an MEK inhibitor and after they developed resistance to the drugs.

Jan 14, 2015

Stryker eyes deals, market share growth in Europe

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Orthopedic device and surgical equipment maker Stryker Corp said on Wednesday it is eyeing growth through acquisitions, and has set its sights on improving market share for its products in Europe.

Stryker Chief Executive Kevin Lobo, speaking at the JP Morgan healthcare conference in San Francisco, said the company was in a very strong cash position that would allow it to make acquisitions that are “small, medium or even large.”

Jan 13, 2015

Express Scripts sees opportunity to lower cancer treatment cost

By Susan Kelly and Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Express Scripts, the largest U.S. pharmacy benefit manager, on Tuesday said cost savings on expensive cancer treatments could be achieved if the company were involved earlier in the decision-making process.

Express Scripts, which has become more aggressive in negotiating discounts on drugs for insurance plans and employers, in December stopped covering Gilead Sciences Inc’s hepatitis C treatments after lining up a cheaper price for AbbVie’s newly-approved alternative.

Jan 12, 2015

Merck, Bristol heat up immunotherapy race in lung cancer

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck & Co broke further away from rival drugmakers in the race to treat lung cancer with a new generation of immune system therapies, adding pressure on the likes of Roche and AstraZeneca to play catch-up.

Merck said it would file an application with U.S. regulators in the middle of this year seeking expanded use of its new Keytruda treatment for non-small cell lung cancer, the most common form of the deadly disease.

Jan 8, 2015

Conatus says data supports moving forward with liver disease drug

Jan 8 (Reuters) – Conatus Pharmaceuticals Inc said
on Thursday initial results from small early stage trials
supported continued development of its experimental drug for
patients with cirrhosis and liver impairment.

In one of the studies, the company tested its drug,
emricasan, at three doses in 21 patients with cirrhosis and
acute liver failure – the sickest patients on the liver disease

Jan 7, 2015

Halozyme CEO sees blockbuster potential in its cancer drug

NEW YORK, Jan 7 (Reuters) – Halozyme Therapeutics Inc
believes it has a multibillion-dollar cancer drug on
its hands.

The drug, PEGPH20, being tested against pancreatic cancer,
has the potential to help treat several other types of solid
tumor cancers, its chief executive said in an interview.

Jan 5, 2015

CVS to cover Gilead hepatitis C treatment over AbbVie regimen

Jan 5 (Reuters) – CVS Health Corp, one of the
largest U.S. managers of drug benefits, said it would give
preferred status to the hepatitis C treatments from Gilead
Sciences and cover a new competing treatment from
AbbVie Inc only as an exception.

The latest salvo in the battle to grab market share for new
all-oral treatments for the liver-destroying hepatitis C virus
follows a move last month by CVS rival Express Scripts Holding
that favored AbbVie’s regimen after negotiating a price
discount below what Gilead had been charging its commercial

Dec 11, 2014

Nestle invests more in skin care strategy with 10 research centers

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Nestle on Thursday will announce plans to open 10 skin care research centers worldwide, deepening its investment in a faster-growing market for healthcare products.

The Swiss company, known globally for its chocolate bars, baby food and coffee, signaled a heightened interest in skin care earlier this year. It spent $5.7 billion for the rights to some injectable wrinkle treatments of Valeant Pharmaceuticals and for L’Oreal’s share of a dermatology joint venture the two operated.

Dec 11, 2014

Shire CEO eyes deals, but no urgency to spend AbbVie breakup fee

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Shire PLC’s (SHP.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) chief executive said he sees no urgency to spend the windfall the Dublin-based drugmaker received when AbbVie (ABBV.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) walked away from a $55 billion takeover bid earlier this year.

AbbVie scuttled the so-called inversion deal in October after changes in U.S. tax rules aimed at preventing U.S. companies from redomiciling abroad to take advantage of lower corporate taxes.

Dec 8, 2014

Edwards CEO hopes FDA to accelerate approvals of medical devices

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. health regulators appear open to speeding up approvals of medical devices that currently often reach European markets three to five years ahead of being cleared in the United States, the chief executive officer of Edwards Lifesciences said.

Such a change could help get the third generation of its Sapien transcatheter aortic heart valve replacement (TAVR) to U.S. clinicians faster than previously expected, Edwards CEO Michael Mussallem told Reuters on Monday following the company’s business update for analysts and investors in New York.

    • 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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