Friday, April 28, 2006

New way to treat obesity heralded

looks like the new blockbuster has been identified...

Topping up levels of a hormone found naturally in the stomach could be a new way to treat obesity.
Boosting oxyntomodulin limits appetite and raises activity levels at the same time - leading to speedy but healthy weight loss rates, a UK study suggests.

The hormone tells us we are full after a meal, but the obese have less of it.

The fact dieting tends to lead to reductions in activity often makes weight loss harder, the International Journal of Obesity study says.

Professor Steve Bloom head of the Division of Investigative Science at Imperial College London said earlier studies had shown oxyntomodulin decreased appetite.

link to full article

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

US drug pacts keep some generics off market: FTC

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Brand-name drug makers are striking more deals with generic rivals to restrict the introduction of cheaper generic drugs, U.S. antitrust authorities said on Monday.

Emboldened by recent victories in court, pharmaceutical companies are using controversial settlements that entail payments to generic rivals which promise to restrict selling competing generic drugs, a Federal Trade Commission official said in a speech on Monday.

"We are seeing far more settlements today that potentially raise competition concerns," FTC Commissioner Jon Leibowitz said in prepared remarks for a Philadelphia business group.

Leibowitz's comments came on the same day the FTC released a report on patent settlements among drug companies.

The FTC has filed lawsuits in recent years challenging patent settlement agreements between major drugmakers and their generic rivals. In some cases, the FTC contends the settlements stifle competition because drugmakers are paying generics to stay out of the market.

Generic drugs are typically cheaper for consumers to buy than brand-name drugs.

link to full article

Monday, April 24, 2006

Report questions FDA's safety procedures

Wha? Wha? What???...

great quote at the bottom of the article...trying for a sound bite, I guess...

The Food and Drug Administration "lacks a clear and effective process" for managing postmarket drug safety issues, says a Government Accountability Office report out Monday. The report was requested in late 2004 by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Concerns about how the FDA handled high-profile drug safety cases — two were Vioxx, the painkiller linked to heart attacks and strokes, and antidepressants, linked to suicidal behavior in children — spurred the request.

"GAO observed that there is a lack of criteria for determining what safety actions to take and when to take them," the report states, noting that FDA officials, given a chance to review a draft, called its conclusions "reasonable" but did not comment on its recommendations.

In an interview Friday, Grassley said the report backs up "what everybody seems to know, that the FDA needs reform, that things that go on in the FDA don't really protect the consumer. The FDA is kind of a Good Housekeeping seal of approval on drugs, and really, it's questionable (whether) they should have that honor."

In a statement, Barton said the GAO "shows that the drug-safety system is not in crisis, but the FDA's process may need some fine-tuning. Prescription drugs approved by the FDA should keep you out of the hospital, not send you to one."

link to full artcile

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Just eat less...

just like my cardiologist says...

"Losing weight basically boils down to burning more calories than you take in."

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A brisk walk through the park might be better than a fast run when it comes to shedding pounds, a small study suggests.

Researchers found that among 14 women who embarked on a three-month exercise regimen, those who worked out at a moderate pace lost more weight than those who exercised more intensively.

But it's not time for runners to start slowing down, according to the study authors. For one, women in the higher-intensity exercise group did retain more muscle mass than those who worked out more moderately.

More importantly, though, there is no such thing as one "magic exercise," said lead study author Dr. Vassilis Mougios of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece.

To get the greatest health and fitness benefits, he told Reuters Health, people should strive for a mix of moderate and vigorous cardiovascular exercise, as well as strength training.

Mougios and his colleagues report their findings in the International Journal of Sports Medicine.

Losing weight basically boils down to burning more calories than you take in. But it hasn't been clear whether the intensity of a regular workout makes a difference in body composition - that is, the proportions of fat and lean tissue.

link to full article...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Another Virtual Neighbor...

interesting story regarding big pharma versus biotech...


this blog is called the Pharma Marketing Blog

Monday, April 10, 2006

FDA backlog = Billions for Big Pharma?

A bottleneck of generic drug applications may give branded drugs more time on the market without generic competition.

good thing if you own big pharma stock...

NEW YORK ( - Big Pharma could land billions of dollars in annual sales that it would have lost to generic competitors thanks to a Food and Drug Administration backlog of applications for generic drugs.

Some $100 billion worth of branded drugs are expected to go off patent over the next five years. In theory, this should translate into lost revenue for branded drug companies because they would face a plunge in sales as they compete with low-cost generic versions of their drugs.

But the FDA's Office of Generic Drugs, which reviews applications for generic drugs, faces a bottleneck of some 800 applications. This is the result of a 36 percent surge in applications last year, according to the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, citing statements made by Gary Buehler, director of the Office of Generic Drugs, at a GPhA conference in February.

"Over the next few years, it's really going to be a problem, as more drugs go off patent," said GPhA spokeswoman Andrea Hofelich.

link to full article

And the next Pfizer CEO is...

Filling the leadership void...

Three ambitious executives are vying to succeed CEO Hank McKinnell...

NEW YORK (FORTUNE) - If only the rest of Big Pharma were as lucky as Pfizer. In the midst of what most top-level managers agree is a CEO talent drought, the New York-based pharma-colossus has no less than three potential CEOs vying to take over when current top guy Hank McKinnell retires in 2008. But there are quite a few sharp elbows being thrown in the race to the top.

Last year, Pfizer (Research) CEO Hank McKinnell promoted three ambitious top executives -- Karen Katen, head of sales and marketing, Jeff Kindler, general counsel and David Shedlarz, chief financial officer -- expanding their responsibilities and bestowing each with a vice chairmanship. The race was on. And one of them will emerge as the 13th CEO in Pfizer's 157-year history.

Its stock is off 40 percent since 2001. Profits are down. CEO Hank McKinnell's to-do list? Create hit drugs, pick a successor and convince Wall Street he can make all the company's pieces fit together.

Katen and Shedlarz appear to be working nicely together. Last year, they were given the onerous task of cutting $4 billion in annual costs by 2008. Less than a year into the project, they have already achieved more than $800 million in savings, well ahead of schedule.

But insiders claim their succession battle is creating factions, and distracting the company from its larger goals -- namely: becoming a growth company again. "There are David people and there are Karen people," says one insider of the two leading candidates. "And they're all pulling in different directions, trying to make their guy look good."

link to full article

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Merck stock tumbles after Vioxx verdict

No. 2 U.S. drugmaker stung by loss in latest case over withdrawn painkiller; 10,000 more suits loom.

NEW YORK ( - Merck stock tumbled Thursday, a day after the nation's No. 2 drugmaker was found liable for the heart attack of a New Jersey man who took Vioxx and a jury awarded $4.5 million in damages.

Merck (Research) stock sank about 4 percent in morning New York Stock Exchange trading.

A jury in Atlantic City, N.J., late Wednesday awarded John McDarby and his wife $4.5 million in compensatory damages in their suit against Merck. But in a split verdict, Tom Cona, the second plaintiff in the case, received virtually no award. Both men had blamed their non-fatal heart attacks on the arthritis painkiller.

Merck has won verdicts in two trials and has been liable in two others. The drugmaker, based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., still faces about 10,000 lawsuits from plaintiffs who blame the arthritis painkiller Vioxx for their heart attacks. Merck pulled Vioxx off the market on Sept. 30, 2004 after a study demonstrated that the drug increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Despite the knee-jerk drop in stock price following Wednesday's verdict, some analysts said that possible liability of up to $30 billion has been priced into the stock, and that Merck shares should eventually recover.

link to full article

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

LRIG Philadelphia Chapter

more virtual neighbors...

LRIG Philadelphia Chapter

hosting events

I'll try to get some feedback...

check the amusing (sort of) background story here

I'll be working on some more links to other organizations shortly...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

One big biology question solved

just in case you were ever wondering...

An Australian research team has solved one of biology's most fundamental questions – why males produce sperm and females produce eggs. The finding is a breakthrough that could lead to improved infertility treatment, cancer therapy and pest management.
The team, led by Dr Josephine Bowles and Professor Peter Koopman from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at The University of Queensland, has discovered that derivatives of Vitamin A trigger the beginning of egg and sperm production, a process known as meiosis.

The cells that eventually turn into either eggs or sperm – known as germ cells – are identical in male and female embryos.

"Whether a germ cell develops into an egg or a sperm depends on the time at which meiosis begins," Professor Koopman said.

"In females, meiosis begins before birth and eggs are produced, whereas in males, meiosis begins after birth and the result is sperm."

Professor Koopman and his team found that retinoic acid, a derivative of Vitamin A, causes germ cells in female embryos to begin meiosis, leading to the production of eggs.

They also discovered an enzyme present in male embryos that wipes out retinoic acid and so suppresses meiosis until after birth, resulting in sperm production.

"This is an extremely important process that nobody has been able to figure out until now," Professor Koopman said.

"It is textbook science and it should provide the basis for a number of practical applications."

link to full article

Monday, April 03, 2006

Just when you thought that glass of wine did you good!

Oh No....

Just when you thought those one or two glasses of wine were of benefit to your health, a new study is now saying that is not necessarily the case.
According to researchers from Canada and Australia the benefits of alcohol for the heart are exaggerated.

Lead author Kaye M. Fillmore, Ph.D., of the University of California San Francisco School of Nursing and her team analyzed 54 previous studies on alcohol use and mortality, which included deaths from coronary heart disease.

Of the studies 47 included in the "abstainer" category individuals who were not long-term abstainers but had only recently stopped drinking or cut down to once per month or less, says Fillmore.

The studies were published in the 1980s and 1990s, although they spanned 1950 to 2004 and the researchers found a systematic error in the design of previous studies that may have exaggerated alcohol as a health boon.

The studies in the main divided groups into "drinkers" and "abstainers" and among the abstainers were people who had reduced or quit drinking for medical reasons.

The researchers say the abstainers had higher death rates than drinkers.

Initially it appeared the abstainers were at higher risk for heart disease because they refrained from drinking alcohol, and so did not get its protective benefit, when in fact Fillmore says those in the abstainer category were often already frail and predisposed to death.

link to full article