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Best of the Blogs, Biotech: Will New HIV Prevention Pill Create More Dangerous Strains?


Plus, the gloves are off as GlaxoSmithKline has mounted a hostile offer for its long-time partner Human Genome Sciences.

This column highlights the most interesting and useful biotech news from around the Web every Thursday.
"An FDA advisory panel meets today to review a controversial move by Gilead Sciences (GILD) to seek approval to market its Truvada HIV pill to prevent infection, which is also known as pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP. The move was both welcomed and criticized by AIDS activists, reflecting a spectrum of views on making a preventive pill available on a large-scale basis. To some, FDA approval would offer needed assistance in containing HIV and possibly clarify the extent to which such preventive measures are useful. To others, FDA approval raises the specter of creating a form of resistance to HIV due to widespread use, which would undermine effectiveness for existing Truvada patients and, therefore, diminish prevention efforts." (Also read Gilead Sciences' Hepatitis Drug in Spotlight at Major Medical Meeting.)
Fierce Biotech
"The gloves are off. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has mounted a hostile offer for its long-time partner Human Genome Sciences (HGSI), whose board shot down GSK buyout bid last month but invited the London-based drug giant to a sales process that could involve other potential bidders. GSK says it wants no part in the sales process. Rather, the company plans to go directly to Rockville, MD-based HGS shareholders with a tender offer of $13 per share, the same amount that HGS board snubbed in April." (For related content, see GlaxoSmithKline Goes Hostile in Bid for Human Genome Sciences.)
In Vivo Blog
"In a deal structure that perhaps could best be described as 'double-jointed,' new company Tolero Pharmaceuticals has licensed exclusive worldwide rights to MannKind Corp.'s (MNKD) preclinical Bruton's tyrosine kinase (or BTK) inhibitor program, which Tolero believes could yield novel therapies for hematological cancers and inflammatory diseases. MannKind, of course, is focused almost exclusively on its perennially troubled effort to develop a recombinant inhaled insulin product, Afrezza. "
PharmTech Talk
"The world of drug development is littered with early-phase failures: drugs that were shown to be safe in Phase I trials, but which failed to show efficacy later on. The failure of a drug at this early phase might not mean that there's anything wrong with the compound. Rather, a failure might mean that the mechanism by which the drug acts was not of benefit in the disease against which it was tested. A handful of these drugs are being pulled from the shelves and given a second chance in a new initiative announced earlier this month. NIH's new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (or NCATS) is partnering with Pfizer (PFE), AstraZeneca (AZN), and Eli Lilly (LLY), which have agreed to make select compounds available for a pilot initiative to test promising compounds for new indications." (Also read Pfizer Plan to Buy Stock, Raise Dividends Overshadows Growth Strategy [UPDATE].)
Seeking Alpha
"Terra Nitrogen Company, LP (TNH) is a very interesting stock. The assets of this limited partnership consist of a single, large nitrogen fertilizer plant in Verdigris, Oklahoma. The company's nitrogen based fertilizer products are primarily used by corn farmers. The major raw material is natural gas. Right now, the market for Terra Nitrogen is very good -- US corn farmers got an early start due to the mild winter, fertilizer supplies are tight, prices are rising and natural gas costs are low. It is a perfect storm for profits."

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