PHARMACY

Mid-stage trial results positive for Merck’s insomnia drug

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN ANTONIO An investigational treatment made by Merck for insomnia was more effective than placebo in improving patients’ sleep at night, according to results of a mid-stage clinical trial.

The phase 2b trial data, presented earlier this month at SLEEP 2010, the 24th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, indicated that Merck’s MK-4305 improved sleep efficiency, measured by the total amount of sleep time divided by eight hours of time in bed compared with placebo. A total of 243 patients received MK-4305 in doses of 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg or 80 mg, while 249 received placebo.

Insomnia affects about 10% of the general population and involves such problems as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep and returning to sleep. Merck said it plans to file for regulatory approval for the drug in 2012.

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Stater Bros. continues fundraising efforts for blood cancers

BY Allison Cerra

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. Stater Bros. is partnering with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for three weeks in June to raise funds for leukemia, lymphoma and Hodgkin’s disease, the California-based grocer said Wednesday.

All 167 Stater Bros. locations will be participating in the fundraising campaign, which will offer customers the opportunity to purchase $1 paper balloons. The proceeds will benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Last year, Stater Bros. raised more than $300,000 for the organization — 2010 marks the third year for the partnership.

“The Stater Bros. supermarket family is very happy to be able to give back because there are so many people who have been affected by blood cancers and it is imperative that we join in the fight to find a cure,” stated Jack Brown, chairman and CEO of Stater Bros. “We do not just do business in a community, we are part of each and every community we serve.”

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Abbott, Neurocrine Biosciences to commercialize elagolix

BY Alaric DeArment

ABBOTT PARK, Ill. Two drug makers will work together to develop a drug for the treatment of endometriosis, a condition estimated to affect 100 million women around the world.

Abbott and Neurocrine Biosciences said they would develop and commercialize the drug elagolix, which recently finished a mid-stage study as a treatment for endometriosis and also is under development as a treatment for uterine fibroids. Endometriosis causes chronic pelvic pain throughout the menstrual cycle and dysmenorrhea, pain associated with mestruation. Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that form on the wall of the uterus.

“Extensive preclinical and clinical experience with elagolix suggests this drug could be an important advance for women with endometriosis and uterine fibroids, highly prevalent conditions where there is a need for new treatments,” Abbott SVP pharmaceutical research and development John Leonard stated. “This agreement enhances Abbott’s late-stage pipeline, with the potential for additional compounds in earlier-stage development.”

Abbott will pay $75 million upfront to Neurocrine while funding ongoing development activities. Neurocrine also will be eligible to receive milestone payments of around $500 million and potential royalties.

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