PHARMACY

FDA approves Parkinson’s disease treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new treatment for Parkinson’s disease made by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, the drug maker announced Monday.

The FDA approved BI’s Mirapex ER (pramipexole dihydrochloride) extended-release tablets as a treatment for early idiopathic Parkinson’s disease, but not advanced forms of the disease. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive and potentially debilitating neurological condition that affects nearly 1 million Americans, causing such symptoms as tremor, muscle rigidity, shuffling gait and loss of facial expression.

“We are committed to providing effective treatment options that may help ease the burden of Parkinson’s disease, and the Mirapex ER approval is very exciting,  Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals EVP Albert Ros stated. “The Parkinson’s community now has an important new treatment option with benefits similar to the currently available immediate-release formulation.”

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Watson seeks FDA approval for depression generic

BY Alaric DeArment

MORRISTOWN, N.J. Watson Pharmaceuticals has filed a regulatory approval application with the Food and Drug Administration for a generic drug to treat depression, the generic drug maker announced Monday.

Watson filed an application for bupropion hydrobromide tablets in the 174-mg and 348-mg strengths through its subsidiary, Watson Labs Inc.-Florida. The drug is a generic version of Biovail’s Aplenzin ER, used to treat major depressive disorder.

Because Watson filed its application prior to the expiration of Biovail’s patents, Biovail filed suit against Watson Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. Under the Hatch-Waxman Act of 1984, the suit places a stay of final FDA approval on Watson’s version of the drug for up to 30 months or until the two companies resolve the matter before the court.

Watson said it may be the first company to file for approval of a generic version of Aplenzin, which would allow it to compete directly with the branded version of the drug for six months following patent expiration, which will occur in 2026, according to FDA records.

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Rituxan gets nod of approval from FDA

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug made by Roche subsidiary Genentech and Biogen Idec as a treatment for the most common type of adult leukemia, the agency announced Thursday.

The FDA approved Rituxan (rituximab) for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia who are beginning chemotherapy for the first time and for those who have not responded to other CLL drugs. The drug is already used to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis and is the third drug to win FDA approval as a treatment for CLL, after the October 2009 approval of GlaxoSmithKline’s and Genmab’s Arzerra (ofatumumab) and the March 2008 approval of Cephalon’s Treanda (bendamustine hydrochloride).

“Rituxan with chemotherapy can delay the need for additional treatment because it significantly extends the time people with CLL live without the disease worsening,” Roche and Genentech EVP global development and chief medical officer Hal Barron said in a statement. “This approval provides an important option and new hope to the many people with this incurable cancer.”

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