PHARMACY

PhRMA to review efficacy of drugs in study

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Several drug makers and an industry trade group representing them will fund a two-year study to examine the safety and efficacy of drugs on the market, according to published reports.

The Pink Sheet reported that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America would help fund the public-private study through the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.

Known as the Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership, the initiative began in 2009, with Food and Drug Administration Center for Drug Evaluation and Research director Janet Woodcock serving as executive board chair.

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PHARMACY

Roche seeks to make injectable device for Herceptin

BY Alaric DeArment

BASEL, Switzerland Roche is investing 190 million Swiss francs (U.S. $182 million) into production of a new device that will allow self-administration of one of its breast cancer drugs, the Swiss drug maker announced Wednesday.

The company said the device uses Halozyme Therapeutics’ “Enhanze” technology to allow patients taking Herceptin (trastuzumab) to administer a formulation of the drug themselves without infusion by injecting it into the tissue under the skin. The drug is normally administered by infusion. Infusion takes an hour, but subcutaneous injection takes around five minutes.

Roche said the money would go into production sites in Kaiseraugst, Switzerland, and Mannheim, Germany. A phase 3 clinical trial evaluating the formulation is ongoing.

“We always strive to improve our products and manufacturing technologies, which in turn benefit our patients,” Roche Pharma Global Technical Operations head Pat Yang said. “This innovative formulation and the associated new device are designed to simplify patients’ lives.”

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Clinical trial finds Novartis drug reduces progression of MS

BY Alaric DeArment

BASEL, Switzerland An investigational drug for treating multiple sclerosis reduced progression of disability by more than 30%, according to results of a late-stage clinical trial recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Novartis conducted two phase 3 trials of FTY720 (fingolimod), an oral treatment for MS, administering 0.5-mg and 1.25-mg doses to more than 2,300 patients. The Swiss drug maker applied for approval of the 0.5-mg dose with the Food and Drug Administration in December on account of its posing lower risk to patients.

In one study, which enrolled 1,272 patients and lasted for two years, patients taking the 0.5-mg dose experienced reductions in the risk of three-month and six-month confirmed disability progression by 30% and 37% compared with placebo, respectively, and got similar results from the 1.25-mg dose. In the one-year study, which enrolled 1,292 patients, the 0.5 mg dose reduced relapses by 52% compared with Biogen Idec’s Avonex (interferon beta-1a), while the 1.25-mg dose reduced them by 38%.

“Innovative science leading to new medicines for MS patients is greatly needed,” National Multiple Sclerosis Society EVP research and clinical programs John Richert said in a statement. “The positive results published in The New England Journal of Medicine showing benefit of fingolimod on the clinical and MRI outcomes assessed is very encouraging to MS patients, their families and their physicians.”

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