Here we present the most useful and interesting business news in biotechnology from across the web.
Link: Ten Pharmas Aim to Cut Red Tape to Speed Drug Development
"Can cutting red tape and duplicated work help rein in the skyrocketing cost of developing new medicines? That's the hope of a new company [being formed by] ten of the world's biggest drug makers.
"The new outfit, Transcelerate Biopharma, was created out of a regular meeting of drug company research chiefs and will focus on five areas where the clinical trials that are used to test medicines wastefully duplicate procedures like training physicians, running websites, or creating procedures to document the benefits and side effects of new medicines.
"Transcelerate plans to register as a non-profit, and is looking for a chief executive. It's backers are:
Abbott (NYSE:ABT), AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN), Boehringer-Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY), Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY), GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), Genentech a member of the Roche Group, and Sanofi (NYSE:SNY). The cost of the project will largely consist of contributing the time of experts on company payrolls."
Wall Street Journal
Link: GE Feels Its Own Cuts
" General Electric Co.'s (NYSE:GE) $18 billion health-care business is being forced to navigate a slowdown in medical imaging-one that in some ways has been aggravated by GE itself.
"GE put its 85,000 U.S. white-collar workers on a high-deductible health plan in an effort to stem the growth of its U.S. health bills, which are now running $2.5 billion a year. In the first two years after the plan went into effect, use of advanced imaging including MRIs and CT scans has dropped by as much as a quarter, as covered employees' overall use of health services fell, according to the company.
"GE isn't alone. A number of other giant employers, including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) and Chrysler Group LLC, are adopting high-deductible health plans, pushing down the use of imaging by privately insured Americans."
Link: Astex Pharma Ends Development
"Cancer drugmaker Astex Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:SUPG) said it would discontinue the development of its experimental small-cell lung cancer drug, Amuvatinib, as the drug failed to achieve a high enough response rate in patients in a mid-stage study.
"Shares of the company were down about 10 percent at $3 in premarket trade. They closed at $3.32 on Thursday on the NASDAQ.
The main goal of the trial, known as ESCAPE, was to show that the drug had a response rate of not less than 10 percent in treating lung cancer patients. Amuvatinib fell short with a 9.5 percent response rate."
Link: Johnson & Johnson to Open Life Science Centers
"Johnson & Johnson is to open four life science 'innovation centres' as it decentralises decisions on investment and partnerships to boost productivity.
"In a boost to the UK's continued importance in drug development, it will open a European centre in London, as well as two in the US – in Boston and California – and one in China.
"Each will have the authority to make investments and forge alliances with companies and academic institutions.
"The move marks the latest in a series of initiatives by large pharmaceutical companies to restructure their functions as they seek to boost discovery of new drugs, at a time when winning regulatory approval is rare, uncertain and increasingly costly."
Link: Deal of the Week Goes to PSA
"Emerging markets dominated deal news this past week, notably inked by Merck (NYSE:MRK), Pfizer & AstraZeneca in China, as the companies seek to expand their broader, established product portfolio further to tap that vast country' s inland cities and rural areas, and by Sinclair IS and Quintiles in Mexico:
"Sales in emerging markets will grow by $150 billion or more between 2011 and 2016, according to IMS Health.
"China is in the midst of a 12th five-year plan (2011-2015), which lists biotechnology as one of seven strategic areas for investment.
"A host of Chinese biotechs are starting to jump start their R&D pipelines by in-licensing compounds from Western developers: Asceltis Inc., Aslan Pharmaceuticals Pte. Ltd., and Hua Medicine, to name a few. Some Western firms, such as Merck and AstraZeneca, have invested in Chinese biotechs that are aiming to bring innovative new drugs to market."
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