Pharmaxis reveals Phase III Bronchitol results; Pharma firms are front-runners for Ratiopharm;

> Pharmaxis has announced significant headline results for the second six month dosing of its international Phase III trial of Bronchitol in people with cystic fibrosis. Lung function of patients treated with Bronchitol for 12 months improved from 6.5 percent at six months to 8.0 percent at the end of treatment. The lung function placebo for the first six months of the study improved by 10.3 percent when switched to Bronchitol. Release

> Richard Bagger, a Pfizer executive and former state legislator, will serve as chief of staff to Gov.-elect Chris Christie, according to two people familiar with the selection. Report

> Vertex Pharmaceuticals on Friday said underwriters exercised their option to buy additional stock in a previously announced $442.8 million offering. On Wednesday, the company expanded its public stock offering to 11.5 million shares from 10 million, priced at $38.50 each for gross proceeds of $442.8 million. Report

> A "double-headed" antibiotic could lead to powerful new drugs to beat resistance, say UK researchers. Story

> An experimental antiviral drug that works by a different mechanism than existing drugs has been shown to suppress hepatitis C in chimpanzees and is already being tested in human clinical trials, researchers reported Thursday. Article

Pharma News

> It looks as if the Merckle family isn't enamored of private equity's bids for Ratiopharm. If Bloomberg's sources are right, three drugmakers are the front-runners in the race for a deal. Ratiopharm deal

> Johnson & Johnson lawyers are prepping for a meeting next week at the Justice Department to talk Natrecor. According to The Recorder, J&J is making a last-ditch effort to persuade prosecutors not to indict the company for off-label marketing of the heart failure drug at its Scios subsidiary. Report

> New Jersey is joining the queue of states mulling a harder line on drug marketing. The state's attorney general is asking state agencies to crack down on pharma gifts and free meals given to doctors. And the AG wants to restrict the sale of prescription data, too. Article

> While the pharma industry in general is lobbying hard for its cause vis-a-vis healthcare reform, makers of cosmeceuticals are battling on two fronts. The Senate's reform bill includes a 5 percent surtax on various cosmetic procedures, including anti-wrinkle injections such as Botox. And that's a tax Allergan and Medicis Pharmaceutical can't believe in. Report

> Abbott Laboratories gets a one-two safety punch today. First, the FDA issued a reminder warning about birth defects in babies born to pregnant women who take Depakote. Meanwhile, the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen is once again lobbying FDA to pull Abbott's weight loss drug Meridia. Report

And Finally... A large new study is the latest to find no link between rising cellphone use and rates of brain cancer. Report