After all the rain that fell on the nation's medicine chest, the shining sun is a welcome sight here at the Pharmalot corporate campus. We apologize for what appears to be a later start than usual, but we were shuttling short people to various schools. Now, though, the time has come for a hot cup of coffee. We hope you'll join us and, while you do, take a peek at a few items that should help you with your day...
Smaller biotechnology companies are ready to take the lead away from big pharma in developing antibiotics that can take on a new generation of deadly superbugs, writes CNNMoney.com. Targanta Therapeutics just submitted its application to the FDA. Cethromycin from Advanced Life Sciences finished late-stage studies and is on track for FDA submission. Faropenem, from Replidyne, is in early-stage tests for MRSA. And an antibiotic from privately held Paratek Pharmaceuticals is in early-stage tests for community and hospital infections.
A greater percentage of patients than previously thought may develop heart failure when taking Pfizer's Sutent cancer drug, HealthDay News writes. The drug was approved for advanced kidney cancer and a rare form of gastrointestinal cancer. The Pfizer-funded study looked at 48 patients and found that 15 percent experienced heart conditions such as symptomatic left ventricular dysfunction or heart failure. This was almost double the 8 percent rate seen in clinical trials. Two recent studies also found that use of Sutent can boost patients' blood pressure and add to their risk of heart failure.
The Rituxan cancer drug from Genentech and Biogen reduced brain lesions in multiple sclerosis patients and cut their risk of relapse, offering a potential new way to slow the disease, Bloomberg News reports. About one in five patients on Rituxan relapsed, while twice as many on a placebo had a recurrence during a 48-week clinical trial, researchers said in this week's New England Journal of Medicine. The drug significantly reduced the number of brain lesions on MRI scans after 12 weeks, and the benefit was sustained during the rest of the study.
AstraZeneca is spinning off some of its gastrointestinal research operations into a new biotech company backed by a trio of private equity firms, Reuters reports. The new venture, called Albireo, will be financed by a syndicate led by Nomura Phase4 Ventures, and joined by TVM Capital and Scottish Widows Investment Partnership. AstraZeneca will retain a significant minority stake in Albireo, in exchange for transferring the R&D assets into the new business. It will also have a seat on its board.
Pfizer is in talks to acquire a stake in Imaginatik, an idea management technology and services company Imaginatik, which develops collaborative software that allows ideas and insights from employees in large organizations to be shared, providing input for possible additional revenue streams or cost savings, PLC Digital writes. As well as Pfizer, Imaginatik’s clients include Georgia-Pacific, W. R. Grace, ChevronTexaco, Bayer and Goodyear Tire & Rubber.