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Oct 22, 2014

Biogen shares down on Tecfidera sales, first confirmed PML case

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Biogen Idec Inc on Wednesday reported sales of its big-selling new multiple sclerosis drug, Tecfidera, that fell short of Wall Street’s lofty expectations, and the company confirmed a serious brain infection in a patient who took the oral medication, sending its shares about 8 percent lower.

Biogen reported the first case of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) in a Tecfidera patient, who had been part of a clinical trial and was taking the drug for four and a half years.

Oct 22, 2014

Biogen quarterly profit surges, but Tecfidera sales disappoint

Oct 22 (Reuters) – Sales of Biogen Idec Inc’s
big-selling new oral multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera fell
short of lofty Wall Street estimates for the first time and its
shares fell nearly 3 percent, even as the company reported
higher-than-expected third-quarter profit and raised its
full-year earnings forecast.

Tecfidera, which has enjoyed one of the best new drug
launches in pharmaceutical history since its March 2013 U.S.
approval, had sales of $787 million in the quarter. Analysts,
who in previous quarters had watched Tecfidera sail past their
sales estimates, were looking for about $800 million this time
around.

Oct 21, 2014

FDA panel votes to expand use of Vertex cystic fibrosis drug

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Tuesday voted 13-2 to recommend expanding approval of Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc’s cystic fibrosis drug Kalydeco to include a wider range of patients with the rare lung disease, the company said.

The panel of experts said Kalydeco should be approved for patients ages 6 and older with a specific mutation of the R117H gene, of which there are about 500 people in the United States.

Oct 19, 2014

U.S. hospitals gird for Ebola panic as flu season looms

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A young woman complaining of abdominal pain and nausea who had traveled to Africa arrived at a Long Island hospital fearful that she had contracted Ebola. She did not have the virus, but the pregnancy test was positive.

The woman had been to South Africa, more than 3,400 miles (5,400 km) from the three West African countries enduring the worst Ebola outbreak on record, and the trip ended six weeks prior, or twice the potential incubation period for Ebola infection.

Oct 15, 2014

St. Jude Medical lowers forecast; shares fall

Oct 15 (Reuters) – Heart device maker St. Jude Medical Inc
on Wednesday forecast fourth-quarter revenue below Wall
Street estimates, citing soft international sales and
unfavorable foreign exchange rates, and its shares fell nearly 4
percent.

The maker of pacemakers, implantable defibrillators,
replacement heart valves and neurological products said it
expects fourth-quarter adjusted profit of $1.02 to $1.04 per
share and revenue of $1.39 billion to $1.47 billion.

Oct 8, 2014

Actavis deal for Allergan would be huge bet on branded drugs

Oct 8 (Reuters) – If Actavis Plc proceeds with a
purchase of Botox maker Allergan Inc for potentially
more than $60 billion, it will represent the biggest bet yet by
one of the traditional generic drugmakers on the upside of
expanding branded medicine holdings.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that Actavis plans to approach
Allergan about a potential merger, providing an alternative to
the hostile pursuit by Valeant Pharmaceuticals International
that Allergan had repeatedly rebuffed.

Oct 7, 2014

Bristol-Myers pulls U.S. marketing application for hep C treatment

NEW YORK, Oct 7 (Reuters) – Bristol-Myers Squibb Co
on Tuesday said it is no longer seeking U.S. approval for an
oral two-drug combination to treat hepatitis C because of
competition from rival drugs that require treatment for half as
long and have shown higher cure rates.

The drugmaker’s shares fell more than 2 percent.

Bristol-Myers’ combination of experimental antiviral drugs
daclatasvir and asunaprevir was intended for patients with the
genotype 1b form of the liver-destroying virus, which is far
less prevalent in the United States than the 1a form.

Oct 1, 2014

Esperion drug succeeds in lowering LDL cholesterol -study

Oct 1 (Reuters) – A new type of experimental cholesterol
fighter being developed by Esperion Therapeutics Inc
lowered LDL levels significantly more than Merck & Co
Inc’s Zetia in a midstage clinical trial, the company
said on Wednesday.

In the 12-week study involving 348 patients with high LDL
cholesterol the Esperion drug, ETC-1002, led to an average 30
percent reduction in levels of the “bad” cholesterol for those
who received a 180 milligram dose and a 27 percent reduction
with a 120 mg dose, according to initial results.

Oct 1, 2014

Loss of smell may be predictor of death in older adults: study

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Being unable to smell bacon frying may be far more dire than simply missing out on one of life’s pleasures. In older adults, it could be a predictor of increased risk of death within five years.

In a study of more than 3,000 people aged 57 to 85, 39 percent of subjects who failed a simple smelling test died within five years, according to results published on Wednesday in the science journal PLOS ONE.

Sep 27, 2014

Pfizer drug effective in patients with rare lung cancer -study

Sept 27 (Reuters) – Pfizer Inc’s Xalkori, which
treats lung cancer patients with a specific gene mutation,
proved effective in shrinking tumors in those with an even rarer
form of the disease, according to data presented at a medical
meeting on Saturday.

In the study of 50 non-small cell lung cancer patients with
a rearrangement of the ROS1 gene, Xalkori treatment led to
significant tumor shrinkage in 36 of them, or 72 percent, and
halted tumor growth in an additional 9 patients, researchers
reported.

    • 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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