Intercept drug meets Phase II goals; Corthera drug gets fast tracked;

> Intercept Pharmaceuticals says a Phase II trial of its drug INT-747 has met the primary endpoint of improved insulin sensitization in type 2 diabetic patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Release

> Corthera's Phase II acute heart failure treatment Relaxin will be fast-tracked by the FDA. Report

> Neurocrine Biosciences (NBIX) announced has amended its lease agreement to eliminate about 70,000 square feet of leased space. "This is a significant first step in reducing our fixed real estate cost structure, reducing our overall obligation by approximately $27 million," said CFO Timothy Coughlin in a statement. Release

> With only a staff of two, Arginetix has closed $10.75 million in Series A financing. The company is developing small molecule inhibitors of the enzyme arginase for the treatment of endothelial dysfunction, including pulmonary arterial hypertension, atherosclerosis and asthma. Release

> Patrick Soon-Shiong, founder and CEO of Los Angeles, CA-based Abraxis BioScience and his wife, former actress Michele Chan, have donated $100 million to turn St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica into a cutting-edge hub. The couple donated $35 million to the hospital just two years ago. Article

> Minnesota contract research organization Algos Therapeutics has appointed Dr. Ganesh Iyer as its new president and CEO, effective immediately. Release

> Novavax (NVAX) has appointed Stanley Erck to the board's corporate governance, compensation and finance committees, replacing board chairman John Lambert on the finance committee and board member James Tananbaum, who is retiring. Release

> Medicure's Chief Financial Officer, Dwayne Henley, has resigned effective October 1, 2009. The company said it has established a transition plan, whereby his functions will be outsourced to a service provider. CEO Dr. Albert Friesen will serve as CFO until a replacement is appointed. Release

Pharma News

> Does freedom of speech translate into freedom to market drugs for off-label use? That's what Allergan (AGN) is claiming in a lawsuit against federal health officials. Report

> FDA warns that the new-and-improved heparin will take some getting used to. The blood thinner has been reformulated to help manufacturers detect any impurities, theoretically making it safer. But in the process, the drug became 10 percent less potent. So healthcare providers may have to rejig their dosages to compensate. Article

> Medicare has introduced a special reimbursement code for Avastin as an eye drug. That might seem to institutionalize its use, making it easier for doctors and patients to get ahold of. Not so. Story

> Some flu vaccine makers are having a tough time filling orders on time. Novartis made news in Connecticut yesterday, when the Visiting Nurses Association announced that it would get 72 percent fewer doses than it had ordered--and the state attorney general said he'd investigate. Now, it's becoming clear that Connecticut isn't the only state affected--and Novartis isn't the only company falling behind. Report

> Lipitor, the big gorilla drug of Big Pharma, has a challenger. Made by Pfizer, the cholesterol-fighter faces a copycat upstart made by Iceland's Actavis. Report

And Finally... German scientists have develped a nasal spray that could improve memory. Report