PHARMACY

New company merger makes way for Alnylam to expand RNAi access

BY Diana Alickaj

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. On the announcement of Tekmira Pharmaceuticals and Protiva Biotherapeutics’ business transaction to create a new company for RNAi delivery and therapeutics, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, has decided to also become part of the new joint venture in expanding access to key technologies and intellectual property for systematic delivery of RNAi products, according to published reports.

Alnylam is also set to grant the new company, along with an equity investment of $5 million in Tekmira at the price of $2.50 per share, licenses to discover, develop and commercialize RNAi therapeutics. RNAi is a natural process of gene slicing that understands how genes turn cells off and on. Learning the way the genes work has become a breakthrough in finding medicines that will prevent or cure diseases.

According to published reports, Alnylam will still maintain exclusive rights to the Semple and Wheeler patents for cationic liposomal delivery, and will also help co-develop and co-commercialize the company’s PLK1 SNALP program for the treatment in various cancers.

According to Barry Greene, president and chief operating officer of Alnylam, “We have long valued the technologies and know-how of both Tekmira and Protiva and are pleased that this key technology and IP can now reside in one entity. For quite some time, this has been the right answer for the scientific and clinical advancement of RNAi therapeutics. Our expanded relationship with the new Tekmira significantly broadens our access to key technologies and IP related to systemic delivery of RNAi therapeutics.”

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GMDC’s Blough passes away at 58

BY Michael Johnsen

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. GMDC on Thursday announced that Doug Blough, longtime director of communications for the association, passed away on March 22 at the age of 58 after a battle against pancreatic cancer.

“Doug made huge contributions to GMDC and its success over the years and he’ll be missed by all of us privileged to have worked with him,” stated David McConnell, GMDC president and chief executive officer. “He fought against this insidious disease and to the very end maintained the sense of dignity, kindness and caring for others that were at the core of who he was and how he’ll be remembered by all of us who were privileged to have known him.”

A resident of Colorado Springs since 1975, Blough’s relationship with GMDC spanned more than two decades as he served as an outside vendor providing visual communications services until he joined the staff management team in December of 1999. His tenure as a GMDC employee continued until the end of 2005 when he retired to spend more time with his wife Linda and pursue his passion for fine art digital imagery.

Even after his retirement from staff duty he was retained as a contractor who continued to manage GMDC’s creative and communication activities as well as serving as the Association’s liaison interfacing with the trade press and managing its public relations programs.

“Throughout his long tenure with GMDC Doug played a significant role in creating and managing the GMDC brand and was beloved in the industry as a person who always had a smile and a good word to say to anyone he ever encountered,” the association stated.

“Doug talked to me just a week ago about his anticipated passing with a sense of calm that amazed me and he actually played a big role in the planning of his funeral,” McConnell said. The funeral is being held Friday, March 28. McConnell is delivering the eulogy. “In these conversations and the planning process with [his wilfe] Linda he was consistent in stressing that it was very important that his passing be a celebration of his ife and who he was … not a time of sadness.”

The family has asked that in lieu of flowers donations be made to:

The Blough Children Educational Fundc/o US Bank6 South Tejon StreetColorado Springs, Colorado 80903Attention: L. Specht

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Otsuka settles Abilify allegations for $4 million

BY Drew Buono

TOKYO Otsuka Pharmaceuticals has agreed to pay $4 million to resolve allegations that it marketed its schizophrenia drug Abilify for off-label uses with Bristol-Myers Squibb, according to published reports.

Squibb settled its issue with Abilify back in September by agreeing to pay $515 million to settle allegations that it overcharged the government for drugs and promoted medicine like Abilify for unapproved uses.

The accusations came from the Justice Department, which stated that the companies of promoting the drug for use in children, and as a remedy for dementia, without FDA approval. Now, the drug is required to carry a black-box warning for use in dementia-related psychosis.

Otsuka will pay the government about $2.3 million and the remainder to states’ Medicaid programs, the company said in a statement. It agreed to a corporate integrity agreement, without specifying the length of the compliance and monitoring pledged. The agreement requires the company to maintain compliance programs to monitor business practices.

Over 12.5 million prescriptions have been written as of June 2007 for Abilify, according to IMS.

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