PHARMACY

Alnylam researchers find potential cholesterol drug

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Technology Review reports that scientists at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals have found a new drug that may be able to reduce unhealthy LDL cholesterol in patients who don’t respond to conventional cholesterol-lowering drugs.

The scientists conducted a study, posted in online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that tested a drug that uses RNA interference on animals, finding that it lowered cholesterol in up to 60 percent of rodents and monkeys, lasting for about three weeks.

The drug prevents the production of the enzyme PCSK9 by binding RNA molecules to messenger RNA in cells and causing them to self-destruct.

They said the drug might have potential to lower cholesterol in people who don’t respond to other drugs due to genetic factors, or it might be combined with other drugs.

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ImClone to pay $17.5 million to Abbott in Erbitux settlement

BY Drew Buono

BOSTON ImClone Systems, manufacturer of the cancer drug Erbitux, has agreed to pay Abbott Laboratories $17.5 million to end a patent-infringement lawsuit over the medicine, according to Bloomberg.

The companies said in an Aug. 4 notice to U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns in Boston that they had reached a “confidential settlement.” Stearns put the case on hold so the companies can finish the paperwork on the agreement.

Abbott sued ImClone last year, claiming its patented method for creating antibodies is infringed by Erbitux. In May, ImClone filed a lawsuit accusing Abbott of withholding information that could have been used by ImClone to defend itself against a patent suit by Repligen. ImClone paid $65 million to end that case.

“We have reached an agreement in principle that would conclude all outstanding litigation with ImClone,” said Abbott spokesman Scott Stoffel.

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FDA warns about muscle damage from drug combo

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Combining some heart drugs could cause muscular damage, Reuters reported the Food and Drug Administration as warning.

The FDA said it had received reports of the muscle injury rhabdomyolysis, which can cause kidney failure or death, related to combining the cholesterol drug simvastatin and the arrythmia drug amiodarone. The agency issued a warning about the risks of combining the drugs in 2002.

All statin drugs have the risk of causing rhabdomyolysis, but the risk becomes greater when simvastatin is combined with amiodarone.

Simvastatin is the active ingredient in Merck’s Simcor and Abbott Laboratories’ Zocor, as well as an ingredient in Merck’s and Schering-Plough’s Vytorin. Amiodarone is the active ingredient in Wyeth’s Cordarone and Upsher-Smith’s Pacerone.

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