Stelara produces promising results in trial; Evotec, CHDI extend Huntington's collaboration;

 > Findings from an international, Phase III clinical study comparing the efficacy and safety of Stelara (ustekinumab) with Enbrel (etanercept) in the treatment of moderate to severe plaque psoriasis showed a significantly higher clinical response with both doses of Stelara than etanercept over a 12-week period.  The first-of-its-kind head-to-head study comparing two biologic agents for plaque psoriasis also shows the efficacy of Stelara among patients in the study who failed to respond to etanercept. Release

> Evotec AG has announced the extension of its collaboration with CHDI Foundation (CHDI) through to the end of 2012. The collaboration, which is aimed at finding new treatments for Huntington's disease and represents one of the largest joint innovation drug discovery CNS alliances within Evotec, will provide Evotec with up to $37.5 million in research funding over the next three years. Evotec has been providing research and innovation support to CHDI since 2006. Release

> Hemispherx Biopharma submitted reports of new preclinical data Thursday regarding its new drug candidate Ampligen to the Food and Drug Administration. Story

>  Acceleron Pharma, a biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics that modulate the growth of cells and tissues including red blood cells, bone, muscle, fat, and the vasculature, announced that it has expanded its development pipeline to seven molecules with the advancement of two novel development candidates, which have been designated ACE-435 and ACE-661. Release

> Since the PCV7 early childhood vaccine for bacterial pneumonia was introduced in the United States in 2000, the number of children hospitalized for pneumonia because of pneumococcus has decreased by 50 percent and bacterial pneumonias have decreased overall, new research shows. But the scientists also found a 70 percent increase in the rate of a pneumonia complication called empyema, a serious and sometimes life-threatening infection in a cavity between the lung and chest wall. Report

Pharma News

> What's the best pharma business? The vaccines business. At least that's the opinion of Sanofi-Aventis CEO Chris Viehbacher. He told the J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference that this "best business" is a key part of his plans to diversify at Sanofi. And then there are all the other tactics that you're familiar with, among them the Chattem buyout, which gets the French firm into the U.S. OTC business with star allergy drug Allegra. Story

> Merck hasn't given up on broader use of its HPV vaccine in women. The company has delivered a new batch of info to the FDA in support of Gardasil use in women aged 27 to 45. The vaccine--which wards off two strains of the virus that cause cervical cancer and two others that spawn genital warts--is already OK'd for marketing to females from 9 years to 26 years. Story

> Pfizer's extension of a manufacturing agreement with Akrimax Pharmaceuticals will keep some 350 workers in Rouses Point, NY, employed through the end of 2010. Report

> More layoffs in the news, but this time they're not megamerger-related. The company: Hospira. The number: 1,400 to 1,500 workers, or 10 percent of its workforce. That's the bad news. The good news: The company will save $110 million to $140 million a year by 2011, and two-thirds of the laid-off employees have already been notified. Story

> Federal Trade Commission versus generic-drug delays, round 10: The agency released a report yesterday showing that the number of patent disputes settled with cash payments grew to 19 in 2009 from 16 the previous year. And in 2004, the number of those settlements was absolutely zero. Report

> Should Genzyme pare away at its business? That's what a key investor is saying. Ralph Whitworth, chief of Relational Investors and Genzyme-director-in-waiting, told Bloomberg that he thinks the company's renal business should be sold off. That way, Genzyme could focus more tightly on its treatments for genetic disease. Report

Vaccines News

> Pfizer has high hopes for Prevnar-13, the vaccine it acquired in its buyout of Wyeth. An FDA panel has already voted in favor of the updated vaccine, and the company is awaiting final approval of the shot for infants and children. Report

> With the latest swine flu outbreak winding down in the U.S., health officials are sounding an alarm that anyone who hasn't been vaccinated needs to get a shot now. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius warns that a second big wave of swine flu could yet sweep the country this winter. And after getting beat up by lawmakers left unhappy last fall when initial vaccine shipments fell far short of projections, Sebelius is leaving no doubt that anyone who wants a jab now can get one. Story

> San Diego-based Vical says that Sanofi subsidiary Merial Limited has won approval from the Department of Agriculture for a dog melanoma vaccine that Merial in-licensed from the developer. And Vical says the regulatory approval marks a step forward in its quest to gain an approval to use a therapeutic cancer vaccine on dogs' best friends: people. Report

> California-based SciClone Pharmaceuticals' shares shot up as much as 14 percent earlier this week after preliminary study data showed the adjuvant Zadaxin increased immune response when used in combination with Novartis' H1N1 vaccine Focetria. Story

And Finally... Scant evidence of antibiotic-resistant superbugs has been found in the droppings of Arctic polar bears that are isolated from humans, potentially suggesting that humans are responsible for the spread of such germs in the animal kingdom at large. Story