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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.

Sep 25, 2014

ValueAct returns to Valeant board, plans to raise stake

Sept 25 (Reuters) – Hedge fund ValueAct Capital said on
Thursday it would return to the board of directors of Valeant
Pharmaceuticals International Inc, which is pursuing a
hostile takeover offer for Allergan Inc, and that it
planned to increase its stake in the company.

Valeant shares rose more than 3 percent.

ValueAct Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Ubben said in a
statement that once he is on the board, he would work with
Valeant on its $53 billion acquisition of Allergan, a deal whose
certainty he has previously questioned.

Sep 23, 2014

Sigma-Aldrich’s $17 bln buyout seen as boost for lab supplier VWR

Sept 23 (Reuters) – The large premium Germany’s Merck KGaA
agreed to pay in a $17 billion acquisition of
Sigma-Aldrich Corp shines a spotlight on, and
potentially raises the value of, a company Merck discarded a
decade ago.

VWR Corp, a supplier of laboratory chemicals and equipment
with annual sales of about $4.2 billion, is owned by private
equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners. It is gearing up for an
initial public offering after filing with U.S. regulators in
June.

Sep 14, 2014

Abbott dissolving stent has lower angina rate vs metal stent: study

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Abbott’s Absorb dissolving heart stent proved as safe and effective one year after being placed in a diseased artery as the company’s market-leading Xience drug coated metal stent with a significantly lower rate of chest pain, according to data presented at a medical meeting on Sunday.

Absorb works in the same way as traditional heart stents, propping open arteries that have been cleared of blockages to restore normal blood flow. But unlike metal stents that remain permanently in place, Absorb softens over several months and dissolves in two to three years, allowing the treated artery to regain more normal flexibility to expand and contract.

Aug 27, 2014

InterMune drug may offer big upside to Roche if aimed at liver

By Ransdell Pierson and Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Roche Holding AG’s planned $8 billion purchase of InterMune Inc is centered around hopes for blockbuster sales of its lung drug, but the smaller company’s development pipeline may end up giving the Swiss drugmaker a far bigger bang for its buck.

Industry analysts have forecast annual sales of about $2 billion for the pulmonary fibrosis treatment, pirfenidone, once it gains U.S. approval, giving Roche a valuable addition to its respiratory franchise.

Aug 15, 2014

Biogen wins U.S. approval of long acting multiple sclerosis drug

NEW YORK, AUG 15 (Reuters) – U.S. health regulators on
Friday approved Biogen Idec Inc’s Plegridy, a
long-acting multiple sclerosis drug that the company expects
will eventually replace its older big-selling Avonex treatment.

The company received European approval on July 23 for the
drug that is intended to reduce relapses of the debilitating
disease and slow its progression.

Aug 4, 2014

Ebola therapy hopes shift to small California biotech

By Akane Otani and Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Hopes of finding a treatment for the deadly Ebola virus shifted on Monday to a small California-based biotech company whose experimental drug has been used to treat two American missionary workers. The drug, developed by Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc, was used to treat two workers from the Samaritan’s Purse group who were exposed to the disease in Liberia, according to a U.S. government health official.

The official said the treatment was administered in Liberia.

One of the aid workers, Dr Kent Brantly, returned to the United States on Saturday for medical care, and his colleague Nancy Writebol is due to fly back to the country via medical aircraft on Tuesday.

Aug 4, 2014

Amgen blood cancer drug succeeds in late-stage study

Aug 4 (Reuters) – Amgen Inc said on Monday its
Kyprolis combined with standard treatment helped patients with
relapsed multiple myeloma live significantly longer before their
blood cancer worsened, compared with the standard therapy,
according to interim data from an eagerly-anticipated late stage
study.

Kyprolis, the centerpiece of Amgen’s nearly $10 billion
acquisition of Onyx Pharmaceuticals last year, has recorded
sales of $146 million in the first half of this year. Celgene
Corp’s rival multiple myeloma drug Pomalyst by
comparison had sales of $296.5 million over the first six
months.

    • 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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