PHARMACY

Eli Lilly looking to new blood-thinner to be best seller

BY Adam Kraemer

By early November, Eli Lilly hopes to release results of a large patient trial of prasugrel, the most important experimental drug in its pipeline. Prasugrel is a blood-thinning agent designed to prevent recurring heart attacks and strokes in people with cardiovascular disease, The Wall Street Journal reported this week.

Plavix, the current leading blood thinner, generated nearly $6 billion in sales last year for its co-marketers, Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Lilly and its Japanese development partner, Daiichi Sankyo Co., hope their drug will steal some market share from Plavix—if it receives regulatory approval.

Lilly hopes to submit prasugrel for Food and Drug Administration approval by the end of this year. If the drug gets timely FDA approval, it could hit the market in 2008. Initially, the approved uses for prasugrel would be narrower than those for Plavix, but Lilly and Daiichi might seek additional approvals later.

One reason that Lilly is betting so much on prasugrel is that its current best seller, the antipsychotic Zyprexa, is set to lose U.S. patent protection in 2011. Zyprexa generated more than one-fourth of Lilly’s total revenue last year, or about $4.4 billion. Lilly needs another big seller on the market before much of Zyprexa’s sales are lost to cheaper, generic competition.

Lilly is trying to downplay prasugrel’s importance in their pipeline. “While it’s a very important compound in late-stage development, it’s not the only product in late-stage development,” chief financial officer Derica Rice told the Journal. He said the company is developing an inhaled form of insulin for diabetics, as well as an injectable form of Zyprexa.

In the meantime, Bristol-Myers Squibb is watching as closely as Lilly at the prasugrel study results. Plavix last year accounted for approximately 18 percent of its revenue, according to the Journal.

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PHARMACY

Esprit pays milestone to Indevus, acquires marketing rights for Sanctura XR

BY Adam Kraemer

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. Esprit Pharma announced this week that it has exercised its option to acquire the marketing rights of the recently approved Sancutra XR (trospium chloride extended release capsules).

Esprit paid its development and co-promotion partner, Indevus Pharmaceuticals, the milestone owed it Tuesday, following approval by the Food and Drug Administration. With the payment, Esprit secured rights to market Sancutra XR in the United States and its territories. Indevus announced on Monday, Aug. 6, that Sancutra XR had been approved by the FDA.

Sancutra XR is indicated for the once-daily treatment of overactive bladder with symptoms of urge urinary incontinence, urgency, and urinary frequency.

Sancutra XR, the once-daily formulation of Sanctura, is a unique quaternary ammonium compound in a class of anticholinergic compounds known as muscarinic receptor antagonists. OAB is estimated to affect approximately 33 million Americans and represents a significant clinical problem with potential medical, hygienic, and social consequences. When untreated, this condition can lead to disability, dependence, and isolation from the community. It is most prevalent among the elderly and strikes women twice as frequently as men.

“The approval of Sancutra XR sets a new benchmark in the treatment of overactive bladder, further strengthens our flagship brand, and reinforces our commitment to patients who suffer from overactive bladder and the clinicians who treat them.,” stated John Spitznagel, chairman and chief executive officer of Esprit Pharma. “We are extremely excited about bringing this best in class compound to market in the near future.”

Esprit is responsible for the marketing and sales of Sancutra XR and Indevus is a sales co-promotion partner for the product through 2008.

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GSK, Takeda agree to add stronger warnings of heart failure to diabetes drug packaging

BY Adam Kraemer

WASHINGTON Manufacturers of certain drugs approved to treat Type 2 diabetes have agreed to add a stronger warning on the risk of heart failure, the Food and Drug Administration reported. The information will be included in the form of a “boxed” warning—FDA’s strongest form of a warning. The upgraded warning emphasizes that the drugs may cause or worsen heart failure in certain patients.

The FDA determined, following a postmarketing study of the drugs’ adverse effect, that an updated label with a boxed warning on the risks of heart failure was needed for the entire thiazolidinedione class of antidiabetic drugs. This class includes Avandia (rosiglitazone), Actos (pioglitazone), Avandaryl (rosiglitazone and glimepiride), Avandamet (rosiglitazone and metformin) and Duetact (pioglitazone and glimepride). These drugs are used in conjunction with diet and exercise, to improve blood sugar control in adults with type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes. The FDA had asked the drug’s manufacturers, GlaxoSmithKline and Takeda Pharmaceutical, to address these concerns.

“Under the FDA’s postmarketing surveillance program, we carefully monitor new safety information for marketed drugs and take appropriate action when necessary to inform patients and health care providers of new information,” said Steven Galson, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “This new boxed warning addresses FDA’s concerns that despite the warnings and information already listed in the drug labels, these drugs are still being prescribed to patients without careful monitoring for signs of heart failure.”

The FDA’s review found cases of significant weight gain and edema—warning signs of heart failure. In some reports, continuation of therapy has even been associated with death.

The strengthened warning advises health care professionals to observe patients carefully for the signs and symptoms of heart failure, including excessive, rapid weight gain, shortness of breath, and edema after starting drug therapy. Patients with these symptoms who then develop heart failure should receive appropriate management of the heart failure and use of the drug should be reconsidered. People who have questions should contact their health care providers to discuss alternative treatments.

The warning also states that these drugs should not be used by people with serious or severe heart failure who have marked limits on their activity and who are comfortable only at rest or who are confined to bed or a chair.

The review of Avandia and possible increased risk of heart attacks is ongoing. On July 30, 2007, FDA’s Endocrine and Metabolic Advisory Committee and the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee recommended that Avandia continue to be marketed, and further recommended that information be added to the labeling for risk of heart attacks (ischemic risks).

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