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Jun 11, 2013

Celgene arthritis drug maintains efficacy at 52 weeks-study

June 11 (Reuters) – Celgene Corp’s experimental
drug for psoriatic arthritis maintained its ability to
significantly reduce painful symptoms through 52 weeks of
treatment, according to data from a late stage study being
presented this week at a medical meeting.

The U.S. biotechnology company had previously released
positive data from the 500-patient Phase III trial called
Palace-1 that compared its drug, apremilast, to a placebo
through 16 weeks of treatment.

Jun 11, 2013

J&J’s Stelara effective in psoriatic arthritis trial

June 11 (Reuters) – Johnson & Johnson’s Stelara
produced significant improvement in signs and symptoms of
psoriatic arthritis through 52 weeks of treatment in a late
stage study, according to data being presented at a medical
meeting in Europe.

The Phase III trial tested Stelara at two doses against a
placebo in 312 patients with active psoriatic arthritis, and
included both subjects who had previously been treated with
widely used biotech drugs from a class known as anti-TNF
medicines and those who had not.

Jun 7, 2013

Exclusive: Forest braces for third bout with Icahn

By Bill Berkrot and Nadia Damouni

(Reuters) – Forest Laboratories Inc is trying to avert yet another bitter proxy battle with billionaire investor Carl Icahn ahead of its annual investor meeting this summer, according to two sources familiar with the situation.

Icahn, Forest’s second-largest shareholder, and the company have been in discussions over the course of the year and talks are ongoing to avoid a third proxy fight in as many years, the sources said.

Jun 2, 2013

Roche’s Avastin fails to prolong survival in brain cancer study

June 2 (Reuters) – The widely used Roche Holding AG
cancer drug Avastin failed to prolong survival when added to
chemo-radiation therapy for glioblastoma – a fast-growing type
of brain tumor – according to data presented on Sunday.

Those who received Avastin in the late-stage study of 637
previously untreated patients also experienced more side
effects, such as low platelet counts, blood clots and elevated
blood pressure. Researchers said the toxicity was not severe
enough to preclude use of Avastin, or bevacizumab, had it helped
patients live longer.

Jun 2, 2013

Roche’s Avastin extends life in advanced cervical cancer

June 2 (Reuters) – Roche Holding AG’s drug Avastin
helped prolong the lives of women with advanced cervical cancer
when added to chemotherapy in a late-stage clinical trial,
likely paving the way to another major use for the
multibillion-dollar medicine.

This marked the first study to demonstrate that a drug which
blocks blood vessel formation in the tumor can prolong the lives
of women with gynecologic cancers, researchers said.

May 30, 2013

GSK melanoma drugs add to tally of U.S. drug approvals

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. health regulators have approved two new GlaxoSmithKline drugs for treating advanced melanoma, in the latest sign that companies are having more success getting novel medicines to market.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the green light to Tafinlar and Mekinist late on Wednesday, bringing the tally of new drugs approved by the U.S. agency so far this year to 13, compared with 11 at the same stage in 2012.

May 27, 2013

Heart device approval delays leave US doctors frustrated

NEW YORK, May 27 (Reuters) – Americans accustomed to
immediate access to the newest technology may be shocked to find
that is not the case when it comes to devices that treat ailing
hearts.

U.S. approval requirements for cardiac devices are much more
stringent than in Europe, where there is no centralized
decision-making body. But a growing number of U.S. heart doctors
feel the regulations are so demanding that patients are being
denied access to beneficial therapies.

May 23, 2013

Denner added as nominee to Vivus board by activist investor

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – First Manhattan Company (FMC) added some heavyweight muscle on Thursday to its bid to shake up the board of drugmaker Vivus Inc (VVUS.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) by naming former Carl Icahn top lieutenant Alex Denner and two others to its slate of proposed nominees.

Vivus shares rose as much as 11 percent after First Manhattan, which has nearly a 10 percent stake in Vivus, expanded its slate of proposed directors from six to nine, including Denner.

May 22, 2013

Thrifty Merrimack developing new cancer drugs at lower cost

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Little known biotechnology company Merrimack Pharmaceuticals Inc has quietly built a large pipeline of experimental cancer treatments that it aims to deliver at a fraction of the cost spent by larger rivals.

That could translate into lower-cost treatments for large unmet needs, such as pancreatic cancer, at precisely the time when pressure is mounting to reduce runaway healthcare spending.

May 15, 2013

Data shows new Roche leukemia drug may improve on Rituxan

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – An experimental leukemia treatment that Roche Holding AG hopes will improve upon its best-selling cancer drug Rituxan delayed disease progression twice as long as chemotherapy, according to preliminary trial data released on Wednesday.

Switzerland-based Roche aims to fend off cheaper competition for Rituxan, which loses patent protection in Europe later this year, threatening a product with nearly $7 billion in annual sales.

    • 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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