PHARMACY

New breast cancer drug shows higher efficacy rate than competing drugs

BY Alaric DeArment

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. An investigational breast cancer drug was more effective than a competing drug in preventing fractures in breast cancer patients whose cancer has spread to the bones, the manufacturer has said.

Amgen said results of a 2,049-patient phase 3 trial indicated that denosumab worked better than Novartis’s Zometa (zoledronic acid) in treating bone metastases – breast cancer that has spread to two or more bones – by delaying the time before fractures and other bone-related problems occurred.

“We are extremely pleased with the outcome of this important study, which shows that denosumab can reduce or delay the serious complications of bone metastases in breast cancer patients better than the current standard of care, and with a favorable benefit-risk profile,” Amgen EVP research and development Roger Perlmutter said in a statement.

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Mylan gets FDA approval for AstraZeneca drug generic

BY Alaric DeArment

PITTSBURGH The Food and Drug Administration has approved Mylan’s generic version of a drug for treating prostate cancer.

Mylan announced Tuesday the approval of bicalutamide tablets in the 50-mg strength. The tablets are a generic version of AstraZeneca’s Casodex, which had U.S. sales of $322 million for the 12 months ended March 31 in the same strength, according to IMS Health data, and global sales of $1.26 billion, according to AstraZeneca financial data.

Teva announced Monday the launch of its own version of the drug.

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Merck shareholders approve merger with Schering-Plough

BY Allison Cerra

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. It’s official: Merck & Co.’s shareholders have approved its merger with Schering-Plough.

Merck announced Friday that its shareholders voted overwhelmingly to approve the proposed merger. The preliminary tabulation indicates that more than 99% of the company’s outstanding shares voted in favor of the transaction. Merck held its special shareholder meeting in Bridgewater, N.J. on Friday to vote on the proposed merger.

“We are gratified by the shareholder confidence demonstrated through the outcome of today’s vote,” said Richard T. Clark, Merck’s chairman, president and CEO. “On behalf of Merck’s Board and management team, I want to thank our shareholders, customers and dedicated employees for their support throughout this process. We look forward to completing the merger with Schering-Plough and to creating a strong, global leader that can make a substantial difference to patients and global health care.”

As previously announced on March 9, under the terms of the agreement, Schering-Plough shareholders will receive 0.5767 of a share of new Merck common stock and $10.50 in cash for each share of Schering-Plough. For Merck shareholders, existing Merck share certificates will automatically represent an equal number of shares in the new Merck after completion of the merger.

The company expects the transaction to close in the fourth quarter of 2009, as originally planned. The transaction remains subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, including expiration or termination of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended, as well as clearance by the European Commission under the SEC Merger Regulation and certain other foreign jurisdictions.

All proxy cards and ballots submitted at the special meeting were processed by IVS Associates Inc. for final tabulation and certification. Final voting results will be publicly announced promptly after they have been tabulated and certified.

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