PHARMACY

Muscular Dystrophy Association creates new philanthropic subsidiary

BY Alaric DeArment

TUCSON, Ariz. The Muscular Dystrophy Association announced Wednesday that it would take a new approach to the philanthropy models for funding research.

The organization has created a new subsidiary, the MDA Venture Philanthropy, or MVP. The new organization will apply the tools and methods of venture capital to fast track the development of new therapies and cures for muscular dystrophy and related diseases.

“We’re excited about MVP because it will help us overcome the critical funding gap that can occur in research on promising new drugs and therapies,” MDA president and CEO Gerald Weinberg stated.

MDA will provide initial seed money of $10 million for the new organization’s operating capital. Its investments will specifically focus on companies conducting commercially promising research in Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Lou Gehrig’s disease, spinal muscular dystrophy and an area that includes Friedreich’s ataxia, myotonic dystrophy and limb-girdle muscular dystrophy.

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Study: Anti-smoking medication effective treatment for patients with cardiovascular disease

BY Alaric DeArment

ORLANDO, Fla. An anti-smoking drug normally prescribed to otherwise healthy people also works for people with cardiovascular disease, according to a study.

Study results presented Tuesday at the American College of Cardiology’s 58th Annual Scientific Session indicate that 47% of smokers with a history of cardiovascular disease who take Pfizer’s drug Chantix (varenicline) were able to quit without relapse for the first four weeks of treatment, compared to 13.9% who received placebo.

“These data are consistent with the findings from the pivotal varenicline trials, which showed that varenicline was more effective than placebo among smokers who were generally healthy,” lead study investigator, Harvard Medical School professor of medicine and director of the Tobacco Research and Treatment Center at Massachusetts General Hospital Nancy Rigotti stated. “This study demonstrates that varenicline is effective in helping smokers with cardiovascular disease quit smoking.”

Approximately 130,000 people die each year from smoking-related cardiovascular disease in the United States, constituting about one-third of all smoking-related deaths among adults aged 35 and older.

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FDA approves vaccine for Japanese encephalitis

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. A viral disease mostly found in Asia but rare in the United States that kills as many as 15,000 people a year now has a vaccine.

The Food and Drug Administration approved British drug maker Intercell Biomedical’s Ixiaro, a vaccine for Japanese encephalitis. The mosquito-borne disease, which affects between 30,000 and 50,000 people each year, is sometimes found among civilians and military traveling between the United States and Asia.

Symptoms of JE include flu-like symptoms that can progress to high fever, neck stiffness, brain damage, coma and death.

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