PHARMACY

FDA grants priority review to Prevnar 13

BY Alaric DeArment

COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. The Food and Drug Administration has granted priority review to Wyeth Pharmaceuticals’ application for the pneumococcal vaccine Prevnar 13 (diphtheria CRM[197] protein).

The company submitted the application for the vaccine, a 13-valent conjugate vaccine, on March 31.

Wyeth said it is seeking approval for Prevnar 13 for the prevention of invasive pneumococcal disease and otitis media caused by the 13 serotypes in the vaccine in children ages 2 months to 5 years. Prevnar 13 includes six serotypes in addition to the seven in the earlier version of Prevnar.

“Since its launch in 2000, our seven-valent pneumococcal vaccine, Prevnar, has significantly reduced the incidence of pneumococcal disease among infants and young children in the United States,” Wyeth Pharmaceuticals EVP vaccine research and development Emilio Emini said. “Recently, however, disease due to pneumococcal serotypes not found in Prevnar, particularly serotype 19A, have increased in prevalence in many regions of the world and are a significant public health concern.”

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Pfizer signs licensing agreement with Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

BY Alaric DeArment

MADISON, Wis. The world’s largest drug maker has signed a licensing agreement with a patenting and licensing organization for the Univeristy of Wisconsin-Madison to use human embryonic stem cell patents to develop new drug therapies.

Pfizer said that under its agreement with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the license will the company the rights to work with hES cells for drug research and discovery.

“Our license with WARF provides us with information and materials that will allow us to use their cell lines to explore a whole range of therapies,” Pfizer Regenerative Medicine chief scientific officer Ruth McKernan said. “Stem cells can be used to create specialized human tissue. Our scientists will determine how new medicines may be able to improve the way stem cells regenerate damaged tissues.”

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GlaxoSmithKline to sell U.S. Wellbutrin XL rights to Biovail Corp.

BY Alaric DeArment

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. A drug maker announced Wednesday that it would give up U.S. rights to the extended-release formulation of a popular antidepressant.

GlaxoSmithKline said it would divest full commercial rights to Wellbutrin XL (bupropion hydrochloride) in the United States, selling it to Biovail Corp. for $510 million. Generic competition to Wellbutrin XL began at the end of 2006 for the 300-mg tablets and during the second quarter of 2008 for the 150-mg tablets. The drug had sales of $60 million in first quarter 2009.

“We are actively reshaping our U.S. business and managing the transition occurring in our product portfolio,” GSK president North American pharmaceuticals Deirdre Connelly said. “This transaction is one of a series of actions we are taking to maximize the value of our current assets and to enable us to resource and invest in new products and upcoming launches.”

Under the terms of the agreement, GSK will transfer the regulatory approval application and trademark for Wellbutrin XL to Biovail for use in the United States, though it will retain rights to the drug for other countries.

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