PHARMACY

GSK applauds agreement to support global preparedness against pandemic influenza

BY Alaric DeArment

LONDON — Companies that make vaccines, drugs and diagnostic tests for influenza will become key stakeholders in the World Health Organization’s Global Influenza Surveillance Network under an agreement reached at the Open Ended Working Group that WHO coordinated to support global preparedness for a future influenza pandemic.

British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline heralded the agreement, under which companies will increase their financial contributions to the GISN to enable the network’s geographical expansion and support technical improvements to accelerate the start of vaccine production, thus allowing them to deliver vaccines more quickly.

“This framework agreement is a critical step in ensuring that the world, including developing countries, is able to prepare properly and equitably for any future pandemic,” GSK CEO Andrew Witty said. “I applaud the leadership of WHO. Member states and the industry have demonstrated a shared commitment to addressing global needs and an ability to work together and compromise.”

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Merck, Sanofi commence late-stage trial for childhood diseases vaccine

BY Alaric DeArment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. — Merck and Sanofi Pasteur have started a late-stage clinical trial of a combination vaccine for six childhood diseases, the companies said Thursday.

The companies announced a phase-3 trial of the vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, hepatitis B and invasive disease caused by Haemophilus influenzae type b. The trial will involve about 1,440 infants at multiple centers, with the primary goal of assessing safety and immunogenicity compared with Pfizer’s pneumococcal disease vaccine Prevnar 13 and Merck’s rotavirus vaccine RotaTeq.

“Combination vaccines simplify the childhood immunization schedule and may improve coverage [and] on-time vaccination, and [may] reduce the number of injections for children,” University of Louisville School of Medicine professor of pediatrics Gary Marshall said on behalf of the companies.

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GSK, Valeant respond to CRL for ezogabine

BY Allison Cerra

LONDON — GlaxoSmithKline and Valeant last week responded to the Food and Drug Administration’s complete response letter for the companies’ investigational anti-epileptic drug.

GSK and Valeant said that their new drug application for ezogabine, an investigational anti-epileptic drug being studied for the adjunctive treatment of adults with partial-onset seizures, was not approved by the FDA, and said they received the CRL on Nov. 30, 2010. Last August, the FDA announced it pushed back its review of ezogabine after a formal risk evaluation and mitigation strategy was submitted to the agency from GSK and Valeant, per its request.

The FDA issues a CRL when it has finished reviewing the application for a drug but issues remain that preclude final approval.

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