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Jul 30, 2013

Cost controls help Pfizer, Merck weather weak quarter

By Bill Berkrot and Ransdell Pierson

(Reuters) – Big Pharma is still relying on belt-tightening to prop up financial results.

Pfizer Inc (PFE.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Merck & Co (MRK.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) said on Tuesday their quarterly results were again hit by generic competition for once top-selling products and the toll of a strong dollar on overseas revenue. Controls on marketing and administrative expenses, and other costs, helped them report earnings slightly above Wall Street estimates.

Jul 29, 2013

Vertex loss narrows as cystic fibrosis drug sales grow

July 29 (Reuters) – Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc on
Monday posted a narrower quarterly loss on
stronger-than-expected demand for its cystic fibrosis treatment,
and it raised its full-year forecast for sales of the medicine.

The company now expects 2013 sales of the CF drug Kalydeco
at $345 million to $360 million, up from its prior view of $300
million to $340 million.

Jul 25, 2013

U.S. FDA puts hold on Vertex hepatitis study; shares fall

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc said U.S. health regulators placed a partial clinical hold on its mid-stage study of an experimental oral hepatitis C treatment because of potential liver problems, sending its shares sharply lower on Thursday.

Vertex said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration took the action on the Phase II study of its VX-135 in combination with the standard hepatitis drug ribavirin after elevated liver enzymes were observed in three patients taking the 400 milligram dose of its drug.

Jul 25, 2013

Biogen’s new MS drug sales shine in first quarter on market

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Biogen Idec Inc on Thursday reported sales of its new Tecfidera oral multiple sclerosis drug that blew away initial Wall Street estimates, confirming an extremely strong launch for a medicine expected to dominate its market.

In its first quarter on the market, Tecfidera had sales of $192 million, including inventory stocking. Analysts had expected about $66 million, with the more bullish forecasts at about $90 million.

Jul 24, 2013

Thermo Fisher profit edges past Street view; shares up

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc (TMO.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) reported a second-quarter profit that slightly beat Wall Street expectations, and said it was making progress in planning for its $13.6 billion acquisition of genetic testing company Life Technologies Inc (LIFE.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

Excluding special items, Thermo Fisher earned $1.32 per share, topping analysts’ average expectations by 2 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Its shares rose as much as 3 percent, touching a new all-time high.

Jul 17, 2013

Vivus says FMC rejects offer to settle proxy fight

July 17 (Reuters) – Obesity drug maker Vivus Inc,
embroiled in a bitter proxy war with its top shareholder First
Manhattan Co, said on Wednesday that FMC had rejected an offer
to give the sides equal representation on the board.

FMC responded by saying that it remains open to a fair
settlement with the Vivus board, despite filing a lawsuit this
week against the biotechnology company for postponing its annual
shareholder meeting by three days. FMC said at the time of
Monday’s originally scheduled meeting it had the votes needed to
seize control of the Vivus board.

Jul 16, 2013

First Manhattan sues Vivus for shareholder meeting delay

By Bill Berkrot and Jessica Toonkel

(Reuters) – A proxy battle between Vivus Inc. and First Manhattan Co., its top investor, intensified on Tuesday when FMC filed a lawsuit saying the directors of the obesity drugmaker illegally delayed its shareholder meeting to keep themselves in office.

In the lawsuit filed in the Delaware Court of Chancery, First Manhattan said it had the votes to win the proxy fight and asked the court to stop Vivus and its representatives from soliciting proxies or votes for the annual meeting.

Jul 2, 2013

Top Vivus holder proposes ex AstraZeneca exec as CEO

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Vivus Inc’s largest shareholder on Tuesday took the unusual step of naming the man it would install as the drugmaker’s chief executive should it prevail in its battle to gain control of the board of directors this month.

First Manhattan Co (FMC), which owns 9.9 percent of Vivus shares and has proposed a full slate of nine directors in a proxy fight, said former AstraZeneca Plc senior executive Anthony Zook was the right man to replace longtime Vivus CEO Leland Wilson. The move could help swing support for the activist investor ahead of Vivus’s July 15 meeting of shareholders.

Jun 30, 2013

New clot preventer works as well as warfarin with less bleeding

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – The blood clot preventer Eliquis, sold by Pfizer Inc and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co, proved as effective as widely used warfarin in treating a dangerous condition known as venous thromboembolism and caused far less bleeding, according to data from a large clinical trial.

The Pfizer and Bristol-Myers pill met the main goal of the study by showing it worked just as well as conventional treatment with warfarin, a generic blood thinner, in reducing recurrence of the condition and related deaths.

Jun 26, 2013

Top Vivus holder in talks with CEO candidates

June 25 (Reuters) – First Manhattan Company (FMC) stepped up
the pressure in its proxy fight with obesity drug maker Vivus
Inc, saying it was in advanced discussions with
potential chief executive candidates to replace the current CEO
should it prevail in gaining control of the Vivus board.

In a filing with U.S. securities regulators, FMC said it had
gone as far as hiring recruiters with experience in the
pharmaceutical industry to identify top CEO candidates.

    • 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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