Amgen, GSK, Novartis win top drug industry award

NEW YORK Biotechnology company Amgen won a 2009 Prix Galien Award for a drug used to treat a rare autoimmune bleeding disorder, the Prix Galien USA committee announced Thursday.

The Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based drug maker won the Prix Galien USA Best Biotechnology Product award for Nplate (romiplostim), the first treatment specifically developed for chronic immune thrombocytopenic purpura and the first peptibody protein approved by the Food and Drug Administration. ITP results from a low number of platelets, causing the blood to fail to clot as it should and resulting in purple bruises on the skin and mucous membranes.

British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline also won the Best Biotechnology Product award, for Promacta (eltrombopag), used to treat thrombocytopenia.

Novartis won the Best Pharmaceutical Product award for the cancer drug Gleevec (imatinib mesylate). French pharmacist Roland Mehl started the Prix Galien in 1970, and it was brought to the United States in 2007. The award is meant to recognize technical, scientific and clinical research achievements in the development of medicines and medical technologies.

“The 2009 Prix Galien USA winners represent what is possible when basic scientific research translates into drug development and discovery,” New York University School of Medicine professor and Prix Galien USA committee chairman Gerald Weissmann said in a statement. “We all benefit from the research that provides new treatments for the millions of cancer patients worldwide and for patients living with rare blood diseases.”

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