Existing drugs to watch at ASCO; Institute receives $18M for pancreatic research;

> It's finally here: The big American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting kicks off today, so expect a veritable avalanche of drug-trial news over the next several days. Already, some savvy pharma-watchers are providing ASCO-watch guides to help us navigate to the studies that matter. ASCO report

> Clinical Data has completed its acquisition of Avalon Pharma. Report

> The Translational Genomics Research Institute and the University of Pennsylvania will receive $18 million to research pancreatic cancer, Stand Up to Cancer announced today. Report

> Eric Schadt  is joining Pacific Biosciences as Chief Scientific Officer. Report

> Genentech has submitted--and had accepted--two proposals to an FDA pilot program intended to test quality by design concepts. Report

> Underscoring just how important it is for all children to get vaccinated against diseases, a new study concludes that children who don't get the jab for whooping cough are 23 times more likely to get the disease than children who do get vaccinated. Report

> Moody's Investors assigned investment-grade ratings to Pfizer's latest offering of senior notes, but the ratings agency said it still expects to lower its overall rating on the drugmaker. Report

> The Australian government has bought an additional 1.6 million courses of GlaxoSmithKline's Relenza treatment for pandemic flu. Report

> Citigroup upgraded Sanofi-Aventis to "buy" from "hold" on anticipated data from this weekend's ASCO meeting, among other things. Report

> Merck's blockbuster allergy-and-asthma drug Singulair got a double whammy today, competition-wise. Mylan Pharmaceutical won tentative FDA approval for its version of the drug, which accounted for 18 percent of Merck's 2008 sales. And the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ordered a key patent on the drug to be re-examined. Report

And Finally... Will Solvay--or won't it? Preliminary offers for its pharmaceutical unit are due today, Reuters reports, which means we could know fairly soon whether the Belgian company will go ahead with a sale. Report

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