PHARMACY

Biogen Idec announces first company to join its biologics program

BY Drew Buono

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Biogen Idec announced Thursday that Escoublac would be the first company to join its Innovation Incubator. The incubator is a new program designed to add to Biogen’s pipeline by offering entrepreneurial scientists the opportunity to quickly convert their new ideas for biologics into a drug therapy.

Escoublac is based on the idea of a link between bone biology and metabolism. The idea is that the hormone osteocalcin is involved in regulating insulin and fat storage in the body, which could translate into new treatments for such metabolic diseases as obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

Biogen will offer the company the funding to make those drug candidates the companies offered in concept. It will also offer the company the facility and the ability to work with Biogen’s drug discovery technology to help further its own drug candidate.

“It’s this combination of components that makes the bi3 or Innovation Incubator model quite unique,” said Rainer Fuchs, Biogen Idec vice president and executive director of bi3. “For each company’s founder, it’s an opportunity to advance the science beyond what the academic environment allows. For us, it’s an opportunity to get involved in innovative and exciting science that complements our internal research and development efforts and potentially adds product candidates to our pipeline.” The goal of the program is to turn the candidates into development within two-to-three years.

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LG debuts home health-monitoring in a cell phone

BY Drew Buono

CALGARY, Canada The Home Health Monitoring Solution is a new handheld device developed by LG Electronics allows patients with chronic illnesses to send such information as their pulse, blood pressure and glucose levels to their physician wirelessly, according to published reports.

The goal is eventually to add the technology to cellphones, the same way photography and music capabilities have been added. The product is designed to help patients with illnesses that need constant monitoring. It could also be useful for seniors with limited mobility and for patients who live in rural areas. By constantly keeping track of someone’s medical data it would provide a greater help to the patient and physician monitoring the illness.

The first stage of tests for the three-year project will begin next month. It will involve monitoring blood pressure, pulse and temperature. Down the road, glucose levels and other blood chemistry markers will be added as features.

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Senate votes to extend current SCHIP legislation through March 2009

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Senate on Tuesday approved a bill unanimously that will extend the State Children’s Health Insurance Program through March 2009, according to reports. The House of Representatives plans to look at the issue before the end of the year.

This extension will end a battle for now with President Bush, who had twice vetoed the bill, including the most recent veto last week. Bush vetoed the program the second time because he felt the second version was too similar to the first and would cost too much money as well as shift children from the private marketplace to government run programs.

The bill also would stop a scheduled 10 percent pay cut for Medicare doctors for six months and provide a 0.5 percent increase instead. The health legislation costs about $6 billion, but was paid for by savings in other health programs.

The program currently covers about 6.6 million poor children.

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