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Mar 6, 2013

Analyst says Dendreon recommendation “worst” of career, apologizes

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Wall Street analysts aren’t known to apologize for giving bad advice on stocks, much less admit they’ve made the worst call of their entire careers.

But that’s exactly what happened on Wednesday, when a well-known biotechnology industry analyst apologized for getting it wrong on Dendreon Corp (DNDN.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), after the company’s latest caution on sales of the prostate cancer drug Provenge.

Mar 2, 2013

Celgene drug shown to be effective, safe in psoriasis trial

By Deena Beasley and Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Celgene Corp’s experimental drug apremilast proved to be more effective than a dummy pill for psoriasis patients in a late-stage study, clearing the way for the company to file for U.S. regulatory approval in the second half of 2013.

Celgene said 59 percent of patients in the 844-patient trial achieved a 50 percent improvement in symptoms at 16 weeks, using a standard score of the severity and extent of psoriasis, compared with 17 percent of placebo patients. A 75 percent improvement in symptoms was seen in 33 percent of the treatment group and 5 percent of the placebo group.

Mar 1, 2013

Analysis: U.S. economy, more than scary crashes, threatens Nascar

By Ben Berkowitz and Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Horrific race car crashes – like the one at Daytona last week that injured about 30 spectators – are a black eye for the sport. But it’s the U.S. economy that is dragging down racetrack operators like International Speedway Corp.

International Speedway hosts about half of the annual Nascar Sprint Cup races at its dozen tracks across the country, meaning its fortunes are intricately linked to the sport’s success.

Feb 25, 2013

Insight: Cancer drugs proving worth earlier in testing

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Michael Weitz was out of options. The Californian had endured chemotherapy, radiation and surgery but his lung cancer still spread to his bones and brain.

With time running out, the emergency room physician entered a Phase I study – the earliest stage of human testing for a new medicine – of crizotinib. The drug works for about 4 percent of advanced lung cancer patients with a mutated form of a protein called ALK.

Feb 25, 2013

Cancer drugs proving worth earlier in testing

NEW YORK, Feb 25 (Reuters) – Michael Weitz was out of
options. The Californian had endured chemotherapy, radiation and
surgery but his lung cancer still spread to his bones and brain.

With time running out, the emergency room physician entered
a Phase I study – the earliest stage of human testing for a new
medicine – of crizotinib. The drug works for about 4 percent of
advanced lung cancer patients with a mutated form of a protein
called ALK.

Feb 15, 2013

High-stakes cholesterol study could lift Merck cloud

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Favorable results from a huge heart study could help redeem investors’ faith in Merck & Co and its two biggest cholesterol drugs, Vytorin and Zetia, and potentially add billions of dollars in annual revenue.

Investors have soured on the No. 2 U.S. drugmaker since late December, following setbacks to a closely watched experimental drug for osteoporosis and a newer cholesterol medicine.

Feb 14, 2013

Regeneron profit beats Street on Eylea sales strength

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc (REGN.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) on Thursday reported a profit that exceeded Wall Street estimates for the sixth consecutive quarter as sales of its new Eylea eye drug for the leading cause of blindness in the elderly continued to soar.

Eylea, which improves vision in patients with age-related macular degeneration, saw U.S. sales rise to $276 million in the fourth quarter despite major storms that disrupted business in the Northeast during the period. Eylea sales were $244 million in the previous quarter.

Feb 13, 2013

Obama Medicare rebate plan could hurt drug companies

Feb 13 (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s decision to
spotlight drug rebates as a way to save money on Medicare is
likely to be opposed by the pharmaceutical industry, which could
potentially lose billions of dollars in profits.

In his annual State of the Union speech on Tuesday, Obama
said he would “reduce taxpayer subsidies to prescription drug
companies” to rein in the rising cost of Medicare, the $600
billion healthcare program for the elderly and disabled.

Feb 11, 2013

Eli Lilly CEO says company keeping animal health business

NEW YORK, Feb 11 (Reuters) – Eli Lilly and Co’s
chief executive said his company had no intention of following
Pfizer’s lead by spinning off or selling the company’s
lucrative Elanco animal health unit.

“We’re comfortable with that business and we’re going to
keep it,” Lilly CEO John Lechleiter said definitively on Monday
during a question and answer session at the BIO CEO & Investor
conference in New York.

Feb 7, 2013

Amgen biosimilar push takes aim at blockbusters

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Amgen Inc (AMGN.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) said on Thursday that between this year and 2016 it will have key late-stage data from eight experimental medicines, and that it expects generic versions of biotech drugs, known as biosimilars, to be a multibillion-dollar opportunity for the company.

Amgen Chief Executive Robert Bradway, at a meeting in New York to update analysts and investors on business strategy, said the company plans to launch six biosimilars beginning in 2017 – four cancer drugs and two for inflammatory diseases.

    • 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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