PHARMACY

Novartis’ Menveo is first vaccine to protect against four types of meningococcal meningitis

BY Adam Kraemer

ZURICH, Switzerland New data suggests Novartis’ Menveo, the first quadrivalent vaccine for meningococcal meningitis, can be effective in protecting infants, according to published reports.

An upcoming article in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that Menveo has been shown to generate protection against meningococcal serogroups A, C, W-135 and Y. The Phase 2 trial involved 421 infants from the United Kingdom and Canada, and Novartis says that the vaccine generated protective immune responses and was well tolerated.

According to Novartis, no currently available quadrivalent vaccine including Sanofi Pasteur’s Menomune and Menactra “has demonstrated a strong and lasting immune response” to invasive meningococcal disease, an acute, contagious and potentially fatal disease that causes sepsis and meningitis. Each year, approximately 500,000 cases occur around the world, causing about 50,000 deaths, Novartis said.

Menveo is currently in multiple Phase 3 clinical trials involving infants, young children, adolescents and adults. Novartis said it is hoping to file the vaccine for regulatory approval in the European Union and the United States in 2008.

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House investigates possibly misleading Lipitor advertisement

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON Democrats in the House of Representatives are investigating as to whether or not consumers are being misled by advertisements for Lipitor featuring Dr. Robert Jarvik, the inventor of the artificial heart, the Associated Press reported.

Michigan Reps. John Dingell and Bart Stupak sent a letter to the drug’s manufacturer Pfizer on Monday, questioning the credibility of Jarvik, whom they believe is not certified to practice or prescribe medicine because he might not have taken the necessary tests or performed an internship.

Pfizer spokesman Chris Loder said Jarvik’s presence in the advertisements is meant to educate consumers on the importance heart health. “Dr. Jarvik is a respected health care professional and heart expert who knows how imperative it is for patients to do everything they can to keep their heart working well,” Loder said in a statement.

The representatives have requested that Pfizer turn over all of its information concerning Jarvik including its contract with him and any information about his professional qualifications.

Lipitor is the most prescribed drug in the U.S., with sales of $13.6 billion in 2006.

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King ends five-year Skelaxin patent suit against CorePharma

BY Drew Buono

BRISTOL, Tenn. & MIDDLESEX, N.J. King Pharmaceuticals has ended is patent lawsuit with CorePharma regarding its muscle relaxant drug Skelaxin and has signed an agreement with CorePharma related to the drug, according to Forbes.

On Jan. 2, the two companies signed an agreement under which, CorePharma will gain certain exclusive rights to Skelaxin 800 mg to market a generic version, called metaxalone and have also gained a non-exclusive license to produce and market a 400 mg version of the drug. This license will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

Back in 2003, CorePharma was one of several biopharmaceutical companies to file with the Food and Drug Administration seeking permission to produce a generic. King countered by suing CorePharma and later Eon Labs and Mutual Pharmaceuticals, who also sought permission to produce a generic.

As of now, CorePharma is the only company that King Pharmaceuticals has an agreement with concerning Skelaxin. The drug is estimated to account for about $400 million in sales in 2008, according to Morgan Stanley.

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