And so, as promised, we have returned. We trust you had a pleasant and productive week while we were away. And we want to say thanks for the nice send-off notes so many of you posted. Much appreciated. As always, though, the time has now come to reach for that favored cup of stimulation as we recap a few of the more interesting events of the past several days...
Despite last-minute huffing and puffing from drugmakers and biotechs, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law one of the nation's strictest limits on gifts given to doctors and other medical professionals by sales reps, the most contentious measure contained in a broad package intended to improve healthcare safety and curb skyrocketing costs. Read more here and here.
Which course should Bristol-Myers Squibb pursue if its $4.5 billion bid for ImClone Systems fails? Reuters canvasses several analysts for insights. Meanwhile, Dow Jones writes that some analysts think Merck is just a few weeks away from reinstating a long-term financial forecast that's reasonably close to the ambitious view the drugmaker backed away from recently amid uncertainty over sales growth for its top products.
Argentine authorities are exploring a possible link between the deaths of 14 children and an experimental vaccine they were taking in a clinical trial run by Glaxo, according to the Associated Press. Argentina's food and drug administration is investigating whether the deaths are tied to the Synflorix vaccine, said an agency official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case. More background.
Just how closely was the FDA watching Ranbaxy Labs? Even as US authorities were investigating whether Ranbaxy fabricated data to win regulatory endorsements for its medicines, the FDA approved 18 of its generic drugs and the agency has been aware of the allegations for at least 18 months, Bloomberg News noted, citing documents released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Lawmakers and former FDA officials are now questioning why the agency continued to trust Ranbaxy's data after learning of the allegations. Back story.
Stunting use of stents: People with chronic chest pain who are not in big danger of a heart attack now may have even less reason to rush into an artery-opening angioplasty. That's because there's more evidence drugs should be tried first and often are just as effective, the Associated Press wrote about a study in The New England Journal of Medicine. The slim early advantage for angioplasty at relieving pain in non-emergency cases starts to fade within six months and vanishes after three years, which is sooner than the five years doctors estimated last year after their first analysis of a landmark heart study.
Thailand's Public Health Minister, Chavarat Charnvirakul, confirmed he will resist lobbying by global drugmakers for an end to compulsory licensing of life-saving patented medications. The Bangkok Post wrote that he was responding to reports that Sanofi-Aventis was lobbying Thai authorities to dump cheap anti-clotting and breast and lung cancer meds purchased under compulsory licensing and buy its products instead. Meanwhile, health and consumer activists are set to take legal action against Thailand's Commerce Minister, Chaiya Sasomsab, and related trade authorities for issuing an order deemed to protect one drugmaker while blocking the public's access to medicines, the Post reports.