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May 29, 2015

Merck immunotherapy appears effective in head and neck cancer: study

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – A Merck & Co drug that helps the immune system fight cancer was about twice as effective as the current standard therapy for patients with recurrent or advanced head and neck cancers, according to study data released on Friday.

A quarter of the 132 patients who received the drug, Keytruda (pembrolizumab), saw their tumors shrink by at least 30 percent. Fifty-six percent of patients experienced at least some tumor shrinkage in the ongoing single drug Phase I study dubbed Keynote-012, researchers reported.

May 28, 2015

New drugs from Bristol, Merck at forefront of cancer meeting

By Deena Beasley and Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – New data to be released this weekend should help deepen the understanding of how broadly new drugs that unleash the body’s immune system to fight cancer can be used.

Results from key clinical trials will be presented starting Friday in Chicago at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. These will include studies aimed at defining ahead of time which patients are likely to benefit from the costly drugs.

May 22, 2015

U.S. bird flu causes egg shortage, emergency measures

CHICAGO/NEW YORK, May 22 (Reuters) – As a virulent avian
influenza outbreak continues to spread across the Midwestern
United States, some egg-dependent companies are contemplating
drastic steps – importing eggs from overseas or looking to egg
alternatives.

A spokeswoman for Archer Daniels Midland Co said
that as egg supplies tighten and prices rise, the food
processing and commodities company has received numerous
inquiries from manufacturers about the plant-based egg
substitutes it makes.

May 22, 2015

U.S. bird flu causing egg squeeze, emergency measures

CHICAGO and NEW YORK (Reuters) – As a virulent avian influenza outbreak continues to spread across the Midwestern United States, some egg-dependent companies are contemplating drastic steps: importing eggs from overseas or looking to egg alternatives.

A spokeswoman for grain giant Archer Daniels Midland Co said that, as egg supplies have tightened and prices risen, the company has received numerous inquiries from manufacturers about the plant-based egg substitutes it makes.

May 20, 2015

U.S. DEA announces four-state crackdown on illegal pill distribution

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on
Wednesday announced the results of a four-state crackdown aimed
at stopping illegal distribution of addictive prescription
medicines, such as opioid painkillers, that yielded 280 arrests.

Dubbed Operation Pilluted, the DEA said 22 doctors and
pharmacists were among those arrested on federal and state
criminal charges over the course of 15 months. Led by the DEA’s
New Orleans Field Division, the action, which the agency called
its largest-ever prescription drug operation, took place in
Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi.

May 20, 2015

J&J to submit at least 10 new drugs for approval by 2019

By Bill Berkrot and Caroline Humer

(Reuters) – U.S. healthcare conglomerate Johnson & Johnson said on Wednesday it expects to submit more than 10 new medicines with annual revenue potential of at least $1 billion each to regulators by 2019, and is testing dozens of new uses for existing medicines.

J&J said it would file for approval of daratumumab for the blood cancer multiple myeloma in the United States and Europe this year based on mid-stage clinical data.

May 20, 2015

J&J to submit at least 10 medicines for approval by 2019

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. healthcare conglomerate Johnson & Johnson said on Wednesday it expects to submit more than 10 new medicines with annual revenue potential of at least $1 billion each to regulators by 2019, and is testing dozens of new uses for existing medicines.

J&J said it would file for approval of the experimental drug daratumumab for the blood cancer multiple myeloma in the United States and Europe this year based on mid-stage clinical data that will be presented at a major cancer meeting this month.

May 18, 2015

Veracyte lung cancer test could help avoid some risky biopsies

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – A new diagnostic test from Veracyte Inc could help many people avoid risky and costly invasive lung biopsies at a time when millions of American smokers are eligible for lung cancer screening, according to data from studies presented on Sunday.

The company’s Percepta Bronchial Genomic Classifier takes cell samples from the windpipe of smokers during a bronchoscopy procedure and analyzes 23 genes for their reaction to exposure to cigarette toxins.

May 15, 2015

U.S. FDA warns on newer class of type 2 diabetes drugs

May 15 (Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on
Friday warned that a widely used newer class of type 2 diabetes
drugs sold by AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and
Eli Lilly in partnership with Boehringer Ingleheim may
cause dangerously high levels of blood acids that could require
hospitalization.

The oral drugs belong to a class known as SGLT2 inhibitors
that work by causing blood sugar to be secreted in the urine.
They include AstraZeneca’s Farxiga (dapagliflozin), J&J’s
Invokana (canagliflozin) and Jardiance (embagliflozin) from
Lilly and Boehringer.

May 13, 2015

Bristol, AbbVie drug extends multiple myeloma remission-study

May 13 (Reuters) – The addition of an experimental
Bristol-Myers Squibb biotech medicine to standard
therapy for patients whose multiple myeloma has relapsed led to
longer remissions and cut the risk of death over standard
treatment alone, according to data from a late stage study.

The drug, elotuzumab, which is being developed in
collaboration with AbbVie, extended the duration of
remissions by about five months on average when used with
Celgene’s Revlimid and the corticosteroid
dexamethasone. It is the first antibody to be used against this
type of blood cancer, researchers said.

    • 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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