PHARMACY

Benlysta approved as lupus treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a treatment for lupus made by GlaxoSmithKline and Human Genome Sciences, the agency said Wednesday.

The FDA approved Benlysta (belimumab), a treatment for systemic lupus erythematosus, the first new treatment for the autoimmune disease in 56 years.

“Benlysta, when used with existing therapies, may be an important new treatment approach for healthcare professionals and patients looking to help manage symptoms associated with this disease,” FDA Office of Drug Evaluation II director Curtis Rosebraugh said.

Prior to Benlysta’s approval, the only drug approved specifically for treating the disease was Sanofi-Aventis’ Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) and corticosteroids. Aspirin was approved to treat the disease in 1948.

The approval likely will be a welcome relief for many patients with the disease, a potentially fatal condition in which the body attacks healthy tissues, affecting the joints, skin, kidneys, lungs, heart and brain. Lupus affects between 300,000 and 1.5 million people in the United States.

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Lilly names new VP oncology research

BY Allison Cerra

INDIANAPOLIS — Eli Lilly on Thursday announced that it has named Greg Plowman VP oncology research and SVP for ImClone Systems research.

Plowman will oversee the oncology research efforts of both Lilly and ImClone, the drug maker’s subsidiary that it acquired in 2008. He will report to Jan Lundberg, EVP science and technology and Lilly Research Labs president, as well as Bernhard Ehmer, ImClone president.

Prior to accepting the position at Lilly, Plowman served as senior director of research for Genentech for six years. He officially will join the company March 28.

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Hospira gets OK to market generic Taxotere

BY Allison Cerra

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Hospira has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration for a generic cancer treatment.

Hospira will offer 20-mg, 80-mg and 160-mg vials of docetaxel at a 10-mg/mL concentration. Docetaxel is a generic version of Sanofi-Aventis’s Taxotere.

Hospira already markets docetaxel in Europe and Australia, the drug maker noted.

"Hospira’s docetaxel will give U.S. cancer patients access to a high-quality, lower-cost alternative to the branded product, [will offer] a differentiated delivery system designed to enhance caregiver safety and [will reinforce] Hospira’s commitment to meet patient and caregiver needs in the oncology space," said Thomas Moore, president, U.S. for Hospira.

U.S. sales of Taxotere were approximately $1.2 billion in 2010, Hospira said.

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