PHARMACY

Head of Lilly’s oncology biz resigns

BY Allison Cerra

INDIANAPOLIS — John Johnson is bidding Eli Lilly adieu.

Johnson, who served as SVP and president of the drug maker’s oncology business — whose portfolio includes Alimta (pemetrexed) and Gemzar (gemcitabine hydrochloride) — resigned, effective Jan. 28. Johnson is taking on the chief executive role at specialty biopharmaceutical company Savient, effective Jan. 31. Savient is best known for its chronic gout treatment Krystexxa (pegloticase), which received regulatory approval in September 2010.

Johnson said that his role at Savient will focus on successfully launching Krystexxa on a global scale.

"I am thrilled to be joining Savient at this exciting time," Johnson said. "Krystexxa is a product that has potential to make a significant difference in the lives of patients around the world. I look forward to working with the dedicated and talented Savient employees to bring relief to those adult patients suffering from chronic gout refractory to conventional therapy."

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Matrix Labs’ generic Protonix DR receives FDA approval

BY Alaric DeArment

PITTSBURGH — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a treatment for gastroesphageal reflux disease made by a subsidiary of Mylan, the generic drug maker said Monday.

The FDA approved Matrix Labs’ pantoprazole sodium delayed-release tablets in the 20-mg and 40-mg strengths.

The drug is a version of Protonix DR, made by Wyeth, now part of Pfizer. Various versions of the drug had sales of around $1.7 billion during the 12-month period ended in September, according to IMS Health. The FDA also approved a version made by Dr. Reddy’s Labs on Friday.

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In study, Alexza’s schizophrenia treatment significantly improves symptoms

BY Alaric DeArment

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — An investigational schizophrenia drug appears effective in reducing agitation in patients with the disease, according to results of a late-stage clinical trial published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Alexza Pharmaceuticals announced results of a phase-3 trial of the inhaled drug AZ-004 (loxapine), which showed statistically significant improvement in symptoms of agitation in patients compared with the placebo.

“Individuals with schizophrenia are highly vulnerable to episodes of agitation,” said Michael Lesem, lead study author and medical director of the Houston-based Claghorn-Lesem Research Clinic. “Current treatment options are not optimal for managing these episodes. There is a clear need for novel anti-agitation treatments that are quick to act, safe and well-tolerated, easy to administer and accepted by patients and staff.”

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