PHARMACY

Lawsuits claim Wyeth’s menopausal hormone drugs cause breast cancer

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Women across the United States allege in lawsuits that they developed breast cancer and other problems after taking menopausal hormone drugs made by Wyeth, according to an investigative report.

The New York Times reported Saturday that 13,000 women have sued the pharmaceutical company — recently acquired by Pfizer — over the last seven years. The plaintiffs allege that Wyeth exaggerated the benefits of the drugs Premarin (conjugated estrogens) and Prempro (conjugated estrogens and medroxyprogesterone acetate) while downplaying the cancer risks.

Pfizer has said the drugs are safe and that it will appeal the lawsuits, according to the Times. In a statement Saturday responding to the article, Pfizer said that Wyeth acted responsibly by studying the risks and benefits of the drugs and that the drugs’ labels have warned about the risk of breast cancer for several years, with warnings about the risk of endometrial carcinoma appearing on the labeling for Premarin in the 1970s.

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PHARMACY

Biogen Idec, Genentech release study results for rheumatoid arthritis treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. An investigational treatment for rheumatoid arthritis was successful in improving the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, according to results of a late-stage clinical trial released Friday.

Biogen Idec and Roche subsidiary Genentech announced results of a phase 3 study of ocrelizumab combined with methotrexate in patients who had not responded adequately to methotrexate alone.

“Patients living with a debilitating disease like rheumatoid arthritis can benefit from additional treatment options,” Biogen Idec VP and chief medical officer for rheumatology David Hagerty said. “We look forward to seeing the results of our ongoing phase 3 rheumatoid arthritis trials with ocrelizumab.”

The two companies expect to have results of three other trials of the drug in the first half of 2010.

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PHARMACY

Sandoz launches topical psoriasis treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

PRINCETON, N.J. Sandoz has launched its version of a topical drug used to treat psoriasis of the scalp, the Swiss generic drug maker announced Thursday.

The company launched calcipotriene solution in the 0.005% strength, a synthetic vitamin D3 derivative and generic version of Leo Pharma’s Dovonex Scalp Solution. The drug is used to treat moderately severe chronic psoriasis of the scalp.

Branded and generic versions of Dovonex had sales of $12.2 million during the 12-month period ended in September, according to IMS Health.

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