Roche diabetes blockbuster a success in Phase III trials; Durect shares jump on pain data

> Roche says that two late-stage trials for a new diabetes drug licensed in from France's Ipsen hit their primary endpoints. Analysts have pegged taspoglutide as a likely blockbuster if it can pass a battery of late-stage trials being conducted by Roche. In this round, the therapy proved as effective as Lantus in controlling blood sugar. It was also better than a placebo for overweight patients. Story

> Shares of Durect jumped on the news that its experimental anesthetic for post-surgical pain passed a mid-stage trial. Posidur demonstrated a consistent reduction of pain scores in the 60-patient study. "We look forward to commencing enrollment of the U.S. Phase III program in the first quarter of 2010," Durect Chief Executive James Brown says in a statement. Report

> Fast-growing Acceleron has lure in nearly $11 million in new equity financing. The developer was founded in 2004 and has had impressive support from VC groups. Story

> Opexa Therapeutics is planning to sell $5.1 million in shares to institutional investors. Story

> Adimab today announced the initiation of research collaborations with Pfizer and an undisclosed second company. Release

> San Diego-based Neurocrine Biosciences has raised $10 million through an offering to Venrock. Story

Pharma News

> Johnson & Johnson, in the latest of a string of significant deals this year, said it would pay $785 million in cash to acquire privately held Acclarent and its sinus-surgery technology. Report

> With Big Pharma looking to China for big growth, homegrown companies seem poised to expand as well. At least that's the conclusion analysts at Morgan Stanley have made, citing the country's ongoing healthcare reform. Report

> We're getting dizzy, what with all the healthcare reform stories whizzing past our heads these days. There's so much going on, it's hard to keep track of just where reform stands--and just where pharma stands within it. So, here for your perusal is a quick roundup of today's developments. Report

> If you're a sales rep who needs another reason to cry into your soup, take a look at Reuters' analysis of the earthquake that's remodeling pharma sales. The short, short version: More sales cuts are yet to come, and smaller sales forces are here to stay. Story

> Pfizer scored a court victory in the ongoing hormone-replacement litigation: A New York judge threw out lawsuits filed by 23 women who claimed that hormone replacement therapy had caused their breast cancer. In his ruling Justice Martin Shulman wrote, "[A] review of the material and the record as a whole contain no evidence of fraud, misrepresentation or deception," (as quoted by Pharmalot). Story

> OSI Pharmaceuticals got stiff-armed by an FDA advisory committee, which voted 12-1 against broadening use of its cancer drug Tarceva. The company had wanted to market the pill as a first-line maintenance treatment after chemotherapy. Currently, Tarceva is approved for use in lung cancer patients when other treatments stop working. It's also approved for pancreatic cancer treatment. Report

Vaccine News

> With even the most vulnerable segments of their populations shrugging off the threat of swine flu, Germany and Spain want to hand back unused stockpiles of the H1N1 vaccine. And if other countries follow suit, big vaccine manufacturers could have a big bite taken out of their revenue. Story

> Minnesota biotech start-up Syntiron has inked a $149 million licensing deal with Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi-Aventis. The partners plan to develop a vaccine against bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics, particularly Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Report

> As millions of Americans shun the new swine flu vaccine out of fear of potential safety issues, the Institute of Medicine is suggesting that the U.S. needs to create a permanent group devoted to getting out a coherent message to the public about the safety of vaccines. And the prestigious Institute also called for a national vaccine research strategy. Report

And Finally... In what's being billed as a major breakthrough in cancer research, scientists have deciphered the entire genetic codes for two common types of cancer. This kind of pioneering genomic work is expected to herald a whole new generation of personalized therapies that target specific DNA mutations. Story