PHARMACY

Orencia shows efficacy in trial, Bristol-Myers Squibb says

BY Alaric DeArment

COPENHAGEN, Denmark An investigational drug for treating rheumatoid arthritis showed “significant” safety and effectiveness over seven years of treatment, according to data from a clinical trial presented at the 2009 Annual European Congress of Rheumatology in Copenhagen, Demark.

Bristol-Myers Squibb announced Friday that in a phase 2b trial of Orencia (abatacept), more than half of patients who remained on the drug after seven years had experienced remission, while almost 70% experienced low disease activity.

In the trial, 339 patients with active rheumatoid arthritis that had not adequately responded to treatment with methotrexate received either Orencia and MTX or placebo and MTX.

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Xenon, Merck team up for cardiovascular disease treatment research

BY Anna Mcgrath

Xenon announced its recent partnership with Merck and Co. to study innovative small molecule candidates for the potential treatment of cardiovascular disease.

According to their agreement, Merck has the option to exclusively license targets and compounds from Xenon for development and commercialization. Xenon then receives research funding and eligibility for exercise fees, research, development and regulatory milestone payments of up to $94.5 million for the first target and up to $89.5 million for each subsequent target used for drug discovery. Xenon will also receive an undisclosed percentage of product sales and retains the right to develop and commercialize certain compounds

Michael Hayden, CSO of Xenon added, “We recognize that Merck is a leading pharmaceutical company with significant presence in and commitment to the cardiovascular space and they are an ideal strategic partner for Xenon. This new alliance, which represents our fifth partnership with a major pharmaceutical company, once again highlights Xenon’s R&D capabilities and validates our drug discovery platform.”

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FDA approves Seroquel for adolescents

BY Alaric DeArment

WILMINGTON, Del. An advisory committee of the Food and Drug Administration has given a positive review to an AstraZeneca drug used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

The Anglo-Swedish drug maker announced that the FDA’s Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee had given favorable review to its supplemental approval application for Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate). AstraZeneca is seeking approval for the drug as a treatment for schizophrenia in adolescents ages 13 to 17 and bipolar mania in children and adolescents ages 10 to 17.

“We are pleased that the committee found Seroquel to be effective and acceptably safe for treating adolescents with schizophrenia and children and adolescents with biopolar mania, and we look forward to having further discussions with the FDA regarding the sNDAs,” AstraZeneca chief medical officer Howard Hutchinson said in a statement, referring to the company’s supplemental new drug applications.

The same day the advisory committee made its decision about Seroquel, it also voted in favor of Eli Lilly & Co.’s Zyprexa (olanzapine) as a treatment for schizophrenia and bipolar episodes in adolescents, ages 13 to 17.

The committee’s decisions do not constitute approval, but the FDA takes them into consideration when deciding whether to approve a drug.

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