PHARMACY

HHS, FDA open office in Costa Rica to monitor import safety

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON Taking the next step in the President’s Action Plan on Import Safety, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt joined Admiral Joxel Garcia, assistant secretary for Health and HHS, and Andrew von Eschenbach, Food and Drug Admninistration commissioner, in Costa Rica on Wednesday to mark the opening of an HHS/FDA office to serve Latin America.

“The countries of Central America, along with Panama and the Dominican Republic, create the third-largest U.S. export market in Latin America, and, every year, the United States imports millions of dollars in goods from these important trade partners,” Leavitt said. “An HHS/FDA presence in the region will improve collaboration, strengthen our partnership and hasten the flow of quality goods to our markets.”

The office in Costa Rica is the first in a series in the region, which will eventually include an HHS/FDA presence in South America and Mexico later in 2009.

The ceremony in Costa Rica follows the opening of an HHS/FDA office in Brussels, Belgium to spearhead regulatory collaboration on food, drugs and medical devices with the European Commission; the introduction of three HHS/FDA offices in China—in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou; and the announcement the department will open HHS/FDA offices in two cities in India.  HHS/FDA is also pursuing options to open a location in the Middle East.          

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General Mills donates to charity and advertises through NBC’s ‘Biggest Loser’

BY Melissa Valliant

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. Major food manufacturer General Mills is backing NBC’s hit show “Biggest Loser” with its first-ever advertising slot for the show’s seventh season, which started Tuesday night. The spot will be viewed by approximately 8.6 million viewers, and fall 2008 showed a 2% rise in adult viewers ages 18 to 49, a demographic that advertisers often like to target. Nine other marketers from the show’s December season will also be advertising.

General Mills is also sponsoring a “Pound for Pound Challenge” in which the Cheerios and Progresso soup maker will be contributing 10 cents to Feeding America for every pound of weight loss pledged at biggestloser.com.

“This is our first integrated partnership of this kind,” said John Haugen, General Mills’ vice president of health and wellness. “We’re looking for a positive impact on all of our brands.”

Though popular (“Biggest Loser” averaged 8.9 million viewers last January), the show will be rivaling Fox’s incredibly successful “American Idol,” which begins next week and also airs Tuesday nights. Idol can bring in an audience of up to 25 million.

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Adventrx faces further workforce cuts

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN DIEGO After laying off 55 percent of its workforce, Adventrx is planning further reductions in its employees to extend its remaining cash reserves, the company announced Monday.

The company said that in the end, it will have 14 employees. It has also reduced and delayed spending on third-party consulting and vendor services, including contract manufacturing.

The remaining employees will evaluate options for the future and continue the company?s study of the drug candidate ANX-514 (docetaxel emulsion) and submitting an approval application for the candidate ANX-530 (vinorelbine emulsion).

“It’s never easy to let go employees, particularly those who have been with the company for many years and who have made contributions to the company,” Adventrx board chairman Jack Lief said in a statement.

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