PHARMACY

Bristol-Myers Squibb to acquire cancer treatments developer

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb said it plans to carve a niche for itself in the biotech world by acquiring a developer of cancer treatments.

The New York pharmaceutical giant announced Wednesday that it would acquire Medarex, along with the Princeton, N.J.-based biotech company’s UltiMAb monoclonal antibody development platform and full rights to ipilimumab, a treatment for melanoma currently in late-stage clinical trials.

“We believe that this combination with Bristol-Myers Squibb, a global leader in oncology, provides an excellent opportunity to realize the full potential of Medarex’s development portfolio and our UltiMAb technology platform through the transaction which also provides an attractive valuation for our shareholders,” Medarex chairman and CEO Howard Pien said in a statement. “Medarex has evolved significantly over the past two decades from a research platform to a development company.”

The UltiMAb platform has been used to develop treatments including Johnson & Johnson’s autoimmune disease treatment Simponi (golimumab), its psoriasis drug Stelara (ustekinumab) and Novartis’ cryopyrin-associated periodic syndrome drug Ilaris (canakinumab).

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FDA approves two-in-one blood pressure drug

BY Alaric DeArment

EAST HANOVER, N.J. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a blood pressure pill that combines two drugs in one.

Novartis announced Tuesday that the FDA had approved Tekturna HCT (aliskiren and hydrochlorothiazide), which combines the existing treatment Tekturna with hydrochlorothiazide, a widely used diuretic.

The approval was based on a 2,700-patient clinical trial indicating that the combination of the two drugs reduced blood pressure more than either drug alone.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects nearly 74 million adults in the United States and is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

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GPhA, generic drug companies release letter regarding biosimilars bill

BY Alaric DeArment

ARLINGTON, Va. An amendment to a health reform bill currently under consideration would preclude the development of a significant biosimilars industry, nearly 30 generic drug companies told three members of the House in a letter released Wednesday.

The Generic Pharmaceutical Association released the letter — written to Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and Nathan Deal, R-Ga. — signed by 27 generic drug makers criticizing the amendment to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s health reform bill by Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., and Joe Barton, R-Texas, that would allow 12 years of market exclusivity for biotech drugs before they faced biosimilar competition.

“While safeguarding market protections and intellectual property rights is critical in the pharmaceutical sector, only a healthcare system that balances the interests of innovation and access to lower cost medicine will achieve the greatest success,” the companies wrote in the letter.

Signatories to the letter included generics companies such as Teva, Ranbaxy and Mylan, as well as Paddock Labs, Sovereign Pharmaceuticals and Spear Pharmaceuticals.

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