PHARMACY

Appropriations bill to boost funding for Lupus Research Institute’s education program

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — An educational program partially conceived by a group focused on lupus research is expected to receive $2 million through a congressional appropriations bill.

The Lupus Research Institute said the 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Bill included $2 million for the Lupus Initiative, and the LRI expects it to pass this week, bringing the total support for the program to $6.6 million. The initiative is a lupus provider education program that the group created with the federal government. The American College of Rheumatology manages the program, which the Office of Women’s Health, the Office of Minority Health and the U.S. Surgeon General launched last year.

"Lupus remains dangerously undiagnosed, underdiagnosed and misdiagnosed, especially in our minority communities," LRI CEO Margaret Dowd said. "Our LRI patient advocates across America thank Congress for appropriating funds to train healthcare professionals, especially those on the front lines, to spot this complex autoimmune disease early so patients can get appropriate care promptly."

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Lupus Research Institute would receive the $2 million. The funding goes directly to the Lupus Initiative, while the LRI is the organization that conceived the program with the federal goverment, and the American College of Rheumatology manages it. This version of the story corrects the error.

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Sandoz starts late-stage trial of Humira biosimilar

BY Alaric DeArment

HOLZKIRCHEN, Germany — Drug maker Sandoz has started a late-stage clinical trial of a biotech drug used to treat autoimmune disorders, the company said.

Sandoz, the generics division of Swiss drug maker Novartis, announced the start of a phase-3 clinical trial of biosimilar adalimumab. The drug is a version of AbbVie’s Humira, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and Crohn’s disease.

"This latest advancement in our pipeline represents our unwavering commitment to expanding patient access to biologics, particularly in disease areas where there is a significant need for more treatment choices," Sandoz head of global biopharmaceutical and oncology injectables development Mark McCamish said. "We look forward to bringing a high-quality and affordable biosimilar version of adalimumab to individuals around the world living with psoriasis and other debilitating autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis."

The company said the trial would support its efforts to win regulatory approval for the drug in the United States and the European Union. The company also is developing biosimilar versions of Amgen’s Enbrel (etanercept) and Roche’s Rituxan (rituximab).

 

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Reports: Three drug makers have sights on Pfizer’s generics unit

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Three drug makers are looking into buying Pfizer’s branded-generics drug business, according to published reports.

Reuters reported that Actavis, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International and Mylan had expressed interest in buying Pfizer’s business segment focused on generic drugs. However, Reuters reported that Pfizer was not yet ready to make a deal and was in the process of a potential separation of the generics unit.

In July, Pfizer split its branded and generic drug businesses into three segments, including one "value" segment focused on generic pharmaceuticals and biosimilars, with John Young as group president. Leadership appointments to the three segments became effective on Jan. 1 of this year.

 

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