News

Icahn takes control of ImClone as CEO departs

The battle for control of ImClone is over. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn took the helm today as embattled CEO Joseph Fischer bowed

Biotech takes top slot in latest venture report

Investing in software companies? How passé. A new MoneyTree report shows biotechnology is the space to be for the venture crowd. You can credit an aging population and a swelling tab for healthcare as the two key reasons for the growth. Biotech and medical device companies garnered $1.8 billion in 177 deals in the quarter ended September 30. Software, which had been number one, saw 186 deals worth a collective $1.09 billion. A local analyst in Colorado credited the venture upsurge …

VaxInnate gains $40M in third round

VaxInnate, which is developing new flu vaccines, has raised $40 million in its third round of venture capital. The company is relying on its Toll-like receptor technology to develop a new generation of vaccines that are far more effective and less expensive to produce than today's vaccines. New Leaf Venture Partners led the round, joined by Canaan Partners. Existing investors HealthCare Ventures, Oxford Bioscience Partners, MedImmune Ventures, and CHL Medical Partners also participated in …

Medi-Tech completes deal for TheraPei

Canada's Forbes Medi-Tech has inked a deal to acquire San Diego-based TheraPei Pharmaceuticals. TheraPei was a technology spin-off from Sequenom and has been developing new therapies for type 2 diabetes and related metabolic diseases. To pay for the company, Forbes Medi-Tech will make a "small" up front payment, issue stock and make up to $50 million in milestone payments as the technology has a chance to prove itself. TheraPei's founder, Dr. John Nestor, will be appointed as the chief …

Enrollment halted as researchers study safety signal

Potential safety issues have prompted Forest Laboratories and its development partner, Germany's Paion, to halt enrolling patients in a late-stage trial of a compound that mimics a protein found in bat saliva. The independent monitoring committee says they want time to analyze more of the data from the drug, desmoteplase, to evaluate a "safety signal." No other details were provided. Desmoteplase is a clot-dissolving protein intended as a treatment for stroke.

- see the release on the trial

SPOTLIGHT: Device makers team up on stent safety study

Earlier this year, medical device giants Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific were involved in a knock-down, drag out fight over the acquisition of Guidant. But in light of recent reports that blood clots can form within drug-coated stents, the former rivals as well as several …

C&L: ImaRx CEO resigns

Dr. Evan Unger has resigned as president and CEO of ImaRx so that he will have more time to devote to the scientific development of the company. Brad Zakes and Greg Cobb will staff the Office of the CEO on an interim basis. Dr. Unger will remain a member of the ImaRx board of directors and will head the company's …

ALSO NOTED: Sanofi to shrink sales force; Santarus to add sales reps; and much more...

> Sanofi-Aventis is shaving about 500 employees from the payroll in France to make up for slow market growth in the country. Most of the positions will be eliminated through early retirement or buyouts and most will center on the sales force. Report

> Santarus is adding 150 people to its sales force to beef up sales of Zegerid for GERD. …

Cambrex sells divisions to Lonza for $460M

Cambrex has agreed to sell its bioproducts and biopharma business to Switzerland's Lonza Group for $460 million. The divisions, which provide about 42 percent of Cambrex's revenue, make research products and does biopharmaceutical manufacturing and process development. Cambrex will use the money to pay a special dividend to shareholders. Cambrex will focus on the remaining business making active ingredients and intermediates for therapeutics and plans to reduce overhead in its human …

Crohn's data indicates long-term Tysabri benefits

New data on a group of patients in remission for Crohn's disease after 12 months of treatment by Tysabri shows that 93 percent stayed in remission for another six infusions and 83 percent were in remission after an additional 12 infusions.

"What is truly exciting is that patients who enter remission on Tysabri may remain in remission in the long-term without loss of efficacy over time. These data are a significant …

Renovo CEO bullish on partnership prospects

Mark Ferguson, the CEO of the UK's Renovo Group, says the company is getting closer to a licensing deal for its lead product, an anti-scarring therapy. Renovo has gathered positive data on Juvista from four mid-stage trials and Ferguson expects to announce a partner for the program by April, the first anniversary of its IPO. Juvista is injected into wounds following surgery and the company's broker has touted the therapy as a potential blockbuster. Final data should be submitted in 2009 …

WHO calls for $10B in bird flu vaccine research

The World Health Organization is warning governments around the globe that they need to invest another $10 billion if they expect to be able to stockpile enough vaccines to ward off a global bird flu pandemic. The WHO's global plan also calls for a big increase in seasonal flu vaccine production in order to expand vaccine production capacity and long-term R&D efforts to build better pandemic vaccines.

WHO would like to see annual production of seasonal vaccines boosted from 350 …

Takeda, BioNumerik drop licensing pact

Takeda and San Antonio-based BioNumerik Pharmaceuticals have terminated their licensing deal for an experimental neuropathy drug. The move to separate came after Tavocept failed two Phase III trials to treat neuropathy in cancer patients earlier this year.

- here's the release on the un-deal

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Takeda may …

SPOTLIGHT: Nexium formulation wins FDA approval

The FDA has approved a new formulation of Nexium for gastroesophageal reflux disease. Nexium is AstraZeneca's biggest seller. Report

ALSO NOTED: Alantos Pharmaceuticals inks deal with Servier; Millipore opens $50M R&D center; and much more...

> Alantos Pharmaceuticals of Cambridge, MA has signed a collaboration deal for its lead compound, ALS 2-0426 for Type 2 diabetes, with France's Servier. Alantos stands to gain $75 million in up front fees and milestones. Release

> Millipore has opened its $50 million R&D center in Bedford, MA. …

Reseachers encounter stem cell success, setback

Amid the high hopes the stem cell therapies could revolutionize the treatment of a number of diseases, researchers at the University of Rochester and Cornell have made a discovery that has serious implications, both good and bad, for the possibilities of stem cell research. “Researchers…have for the first time essentially cured rats of a Parkinson's-like disease using human embryonic stem cells. But 10 weeks into the trial, they discovered brain tumours had begun to grow in every animal treated,” reports the Globe and Mail. Though the tumours were benign, this is by no means an acceptable side effect. By their very nature stem cells are designed to grow and divide rapidly and scientists have theorized that this could lead to tumour growth. This study proves that theory. Researchers say using a different type of stem cell may not result in tumours, but current policy prevents Health and Human Services-funded labs from using certain stem cells. The findings are published in the current issue of Nature Medicine.

FDA rejects Replidyne's antibiotic

The FDA has issued Replidyne and partner Forest Labs a non-approvable letter for faropenem medoxomil, an antibiotic for acute bacterial sinusitis, community-acquired pneumonia, chronic bronchitis and adult skin infections. The FDA called for further trials of the drug, despite the fact that researchers went to the NDA with data from 11 Phase III trials involving 5,000 patients. Replidyne says that it has apparently fallen victim to the FDA's recent preference that drug developers prove …

Stiefel to buy Connetics for $640M

Coral Gables, FL-based Stiefel Laboratories will fork over $640 million for Connetics Corporation. Stiefel develops a number of prescription and non-prescription dermatological products and through the buyout, will gain Connetics' advanced therapies and topical delivery technologies. The deal is expected to close in late 2006 or early 2007. Thomas G. Wiggans, chairman and CEO of Connetics, noted that, "The combination of Stiefel and Connetics will create the world's premier dermatology …

Gestiva gets approvable letter

Adeza Biomedical has received an approvable letter for Gestiva, a long-acting form of a naturally occurring progesterone designed to prevent preterm birth. The FDA granted priority review for the drug, as it would be the first therapy to prevent preterm delivery. In August, an FDA expert advisory panel recommended approval of Adeza BioMedical's Gestiva but said that the agency should require a post-marketing study to monitor the safety of the drug. Now, the agency has informed Adeza that …