PHARMACY

Avant to merge with Celldex; expect increased biotech pipeline

BY Drew Buono

NEEDHAM, Mass. and PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. Avant Immunotherapeutics has agreed to an all-stock merger with Celldex Therapeutics, to create a broader biotech drug pipeline.

The two companies will keep their headquarters; Celldex in New Jersey and Avant in Massachusetts. Also, both companies expect few, if any, jobs will be lost.

Celldex stockholders will own 58 percent of the new company, with Avant stockholders owning the remaining 42 percent. The new company will have three compounds in mid or late stage clinical trials and six more in early stage trials after the merger.

The new company will add to Avant’s vaccine pipeline, which is focused on infectious diseases, and into new treatments for brain, colorectal, pancreatic, bladder and breast cancer.

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PHARMACY

Obagi announces success with solubilized acne medication

BY Allison Cerra

LONG BEACH, Calif. Obagi Medical Products, a developer of skin health products, announced today solubilized benzoyl peroxide for the treatment of acne may provide dramatic reductions in acne lesions within 4 weeks.

Tested at the Fall Clinical Dermatology Conference in Las Vegas, the results from a pooled analysis of three randomized, investigator-blind trials. In the analysis, reduction in inflammatory and non-inflammatory lesions was greater with the solubilized 5 percent BPO regimens than with the jar gel formulation of BPO/clindamycin. Additionally, patients reported greater overall satisfaction and comparable tolerability with the solubilized 5% BPO regimen.

The product, a novel patent pending formulation developed exclusively for Obagi Medical Products, is a 3-step acne system, which includes a pore therapy and cleanser, both of which contain 2 percent salicylic acid.

Patients reported high levels of satisfaction across all studies. Mean satisfaction scores in studies using the 3-part acne system were statistically significant following 1 week of treatment.

“The CLENZIderm M.D. acne treatment system offers to dermatologists and their patients an option that has been proven to be effective and well tolerated in multiple clinical trials,” said Dr. James Del Rosso, who presented the data at the conference. “There is solid science supporting both the technology itself and the therapeutic benefits of this system. Additionally, there are two formulations of the system available that can be tailored to the needs of the individual patient based on their skin type.”

Each treatment was applied once or twice daily for 2-4 weeks. Patients ranged from 11 to 45 years of age, with a mean age of 20 years, and were evaluated weekly. Patients were predominantly Caucasian with Fitzpatrick skin type III. Efficacy was based on a mean reduction in inflammatory and non-inflammatory lesion count. Tolerability was evaluated on severity of stinging/burning, erythema, dryness and itching.

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Aetna awards nearly $340,000 in grants

BY Allison Cerra

Aetna awards nearly $340,000 in grants Aetna and the Aetna Foundation announced that they have awarded grants totaling nearly $340,000 to 17 non-profit organizations in the Chicago area.

The recipients of Aetna’s grants are dedicated to serving the needs of diverse communities throughout the Chicagoland area.

The Aetna Foundation is the independent charitable and philanthropic division of Aetna Inc. Founded in 1972, the foundation works to help build healthy communities by improving the quality of life where employees and customers reside and work.

Since the inception of this program in 2001, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have awarded more than $15.5 million, including more than $5.5 million in 2006, in grants for programs that recognize and execute practical ways to lessen or eradicate racial and ethnic inequalities in health status and the delivery of health care.

Aetna serves approximately 34.9 million people with information and resources to help them make wise decisions about their health care.

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