Advisory panel backs Ista eye drops; Clavis raises $20M;

> An FDA advisory panel voted unanimously this morning to recommend Ista's new eye drops intended to treat itchiness of the eye spurred by allergies. Report

> Roche has inaugurated a new, state-of-the-art biotech plant in Switzerland. Story

> Norway's Clavis Pharma has raised $20 million in a private placement. The money will be used to advance its clinical programs for cancer therapies. Release

> ThromboGenics says that its lead product microplasmin, which is in Phase III trials for the treatment of vitreomacular adhesion, is progressing according to schedule. Release

> Roche has filed for European approval of MabThera as a front-line therapy for rheumatoid arthritis. It's already approved for patients who have not responded to TNF therapies. Report

Pharma News

> Sanofi-Aventis has a public relations snafu on its hands. The company's shares dropped precipitously in Paris for the second day in a row as yet another analyst expressed worries about the safety of Sanofi's Lantus diabetes drug. Report

> While Big Pharma has been cutting back its traditional sales staffs, companies appear to be deploying a greater number of medical science liaisons, or MSLs. Report

> Caraco Pharmaceutical, the U.S. subsidiary of India's Sun Pharmaceutical, saw 33 products made at facilities in Michigan--and the active ingredients held there--commandeered at the FDA's order. Report

Vaccines News

> A drug used to block immune cells from attacking transplanted organs also triggers the increased production of memory T-cells, and that could play a surprising role in boosting the effectiveness of cancer vaccines and other jabs. Report

> Germany's Merck KGaA has launched a late-stage trial of the therapeutic vaccine Stimuvax in patients with breast cancer. Already in a Phase III study for non-small cell lung cancer, Merck is out to determine if the vaccine can extend the lives of patients in other cancer populations as well. Report

> Protein Sciences' gene-based approach to vaccine development has drawn considerable support from the federal government. The government issued a $35 million contract to the vaccine company to help advance an entirely new approach to vaccine development that holds the promise of being far faster than the R&D methods currently in use. Report

And Finally... New York has agreed to let researchers use public money to pay up to $10,000 to women who give their eggs up for stem cell programs, a decision that swiftly sparked heated debate. Article