Pharma Skinny In Briefs

July 11, 2007
Pharmaceutical Executive

Volume 0, Issue 0

It was a short, sweaty week complete with fireworks....

RNAi is H-O-T:

Li'l biotech Alnylam dipped its fingers into another Big Pharma cookie jar this week as it brokered a $1 billion deal with Roche. (Novartis is its other partner.) This is the second deal in the past week in which a big drugmaker has plunked down a lot of change for RNA interference, or RNAi, a method of silencing harmful genes that is widely touted as drug research's next big thing. Last week, AstraZeneca paid $405 million to Silence Therapeutics; last year, Merck doled out $1.1 billion for Sirna Therapeutics....

Thailand's Patent-Busting Tear:

Thailand is ordering 2 million doses of generic Plavix from India after deeming the discounts for the blood thinner from owners Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis too stingy. Playing hardball with patents is nothing new to Thai health officials, who even forced Abbott's stubborn Miles White to say uncle in the face of compulsory-license threats over HIV drug Kaletra's price tag....

Speaking of Which:

Brazil agreed to Abbott's offer to slice the price of Kaletra by 29.5 percent in return for not resorting to cheapie knockoffs. The lower price for the first-line blockbuster will save Brazil about $10 million a year for its AIDS treatment program, which promises all people with HIV free treatment. In May, Merck's Sustiva patent was shredded by the South American tiger....

Black Box Off Antidepressants?

FDA may remove the teen-suicide stigma from Prozac and its pals amid growing noise from shrinks that the warning issued three years ago has scared off docs from treating kids for depression. The number of scrips for pediatric depression fell by more than 50 percent between 2003 and 2005, while teen-suicide seem to be rising by record numbers, a new study says....

New Drug News:

FDA OK'd the first-ever skin patch for Alzheimer's, the Exelon Patch from Novartis (an old drug with a new delivery). Etravirine, Tibotec's second treatment in as many years for drug-resistant HIV, is heading to FDA for accelerated approval....Barr Labs got the go-ahead to market a generic version of Dostinex for Parkinson's....

Another Chinese Head Rolls:

A former high-up at China's FDA has been sentenced to death for corruption and approving bogus drugs. Cao Wenzhuang was convicted of pocketing over $300,000 in bribes from two drug firms and "undermining public confidence in an agency safeguarding the nation's health." The trial was followed by the execution of his colleague, Zheng Xiaoyu, convicted on similar charges.