PHARMACY

Pfizer reaffirms its plan to continue smaller acquisitions

BY Drew Buono

NEW YORK Pfizer’s chief executive officer Jeffrey Kindler announced that the company would not be attempting to make big acquisitions, because they’re “disruptive,” according to published reports.

Pfizer faces the loss of the patent for the world’s best selling drug Lipitor in 2010, which had sales of over $12 billion last year and also faces a decreasing pipeline of new drugs.

The company though has been making small acquisitions, which include two biotech companies, Serenex and Encysive. These two investments will help Pfizer gain new treatments for cancer and other diseases, but the drugs for the companies are in early-stage development. Also, Kindler mentioned Pfizer is looking into biogenerics, calling it an “opportunity.”

Pfizer also plans to expand its marketing presence in the overseas market, particularly in China, where the company intends to spread its operations into 650 cities, nearly six times the current number.

The company has also been cutting back. It has increased outsourcing of its drug manufacturing to 17 percent, from less than 10 percent three years ago. It has also closed or sold 21 factories since 2004 and reduced its staff by 21 percent to 86,600 over the same period of time. And finally, Pfizer had shut down one-third of its research site, to a current total of 10.

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GSK, Amira ink deal worth potential $425 million

BY Drew Buono

PHILADELPHIA GlaxoSmithKline and Amira Pharmaceuticals have signed a deal worth as much as $425 million that gives GlaxoSmithKline worldwide rights to develop, make and sell experimental compounds from Amira for respiratory and cardiovascular disease, according to published reports.

One of those compounds, an experimental asthma treatment known as AM103, already has shown promise in early human trials.

Amira could receive as much as $425 million in payments if it meets all of its development and regulatory milestones. It also will receive royalty payments on sales of any of its drugs.

“This is a momentous day in the young life of Amira,” chief executive officer Bob Baltera said in a written statement. “This deal validates the abilities and expertise in Amira to expedite the delivery of novel medicines. We are particularly pleased to have partnered with GSK, one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the world, and a company that has a strong heritage in the treatment of respiratory diseases.”

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Studies explore intra-nasal mode of combatting Alzheimer’s

BY Drew Buono

ST. PAUL, Minn. Studies have been taken place for decades to find ways to combat Alzheimer’s disease, but recently news has been spreading that the way to fight it is with intranasal treatments, according to published reports.

Several studies are using the nose-to-brain method of delivering drugs that was invented in the late 1980s and patented by William Frey II, director of an Alzheimer’s research center at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. Last month, researchers in Washington State reported using intranasal insulin to improve memory and attention for patients with early-stage Alzheimer’s.

Most nasal sprays are directed to the lower part of the nose so medication can quickly enter the bloodstream. Drugs to treat neurological conditions don’t work through this route, though, because of the protective blood-brain barrier.

While this blockade of cells and blood vessels protects the brain and spinal chord from harmful organisms, it also keeps out most drugs and has blocked otherwise promising therapies.

Avoiding this barrier is what makes intranasal delivery “a potentially powerful therapeutic tool,” according to the Washington research group. Its study was small, with 24 patients receiving daily insulin or a placebo, but the results, published in the journal Neurology, were persuasive.

Patients taking intranasal insulin were mentally sharper, and their blood sugar levels remained healthy.

The goal now is to see if pharmaceutical manufacturers will take this information and try to develop something for the market and the 5.1 million Americans who suffer from this disease.

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