PHARMACY

VIA Pharmaceuticals licenses Roche drug candidates

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN FRANCISCO Roche has entered into a licensing agreement with a biotech firm for two sets of drug compounds for treating cholesterol and metabolic disorders.

San Francisco-based VIA Pharmaceuticals announced Tuesday that it had licensed Roche’s thyroid hormone receptor beta agonist, a drug candidate ready for clinical testing as a treatment for controlling cholesterol, triglyceride levels and possibly diabetes; and multiple compounds from Roche’s diacylglycerol acyl transferase 1 metabolic disorders program. 

Under the agreements, VIA will assume control of all development and commercialization of the compounds and own exclusive worldwide rights for all potential indications. VIA will make milestone payments and pay royalties upon commercialization.

“We are pleased to significantly expand our pipeline of promising compounds with the in-licensing of these two compounds,” VIA chief executive officer Lawrence Cohen said in a statement. “The THR beta agonist candidate and the DGAT1 program are natural fits for VIA and build on the company?s cardiovascular inflammation programs.”

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European Commission approves marketing of Celgene drug

BY Alaric DeArment

BOUDRY, Switzerland The European Commission has approved the marketing of a cancer drug by Celgene International Sarl, the Swiss biotech company announced Tuesday.

 The company described Vidaza (azacitidine) as the first epigenetic cancer therapy to significantly extend survival for patients with intermediate-2 and higher-risk myelodysplastic syndromes and acute myeloid leukemia. 

“The European Commission approval of Vidaza is recognition of the significant survival benefited afforded by this therapy for critical hematological malignancies,” Celgene Europe president Philippe Van Holle.

“We will now begin working with local regulatory authorities on a country-by-country basis for reimbursement and distribution for all European Union member states.”

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Teva chief confident bill on follow-on biologics to appear in Congress

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK The chief executive officer of Teva North America is confident that a bill to create a regulatory pathway for follow-on biologics will appear in Congress next year, according to published reports.

Bill Marth, chief executive of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries? North America division, told Reuters Tuesday that there was a “very good chance” that Congress would introduce a bill to allow follow-on biologics, also known as biosimilars, in 2009. 

Several large drug makers have already announced plans to create biosimilar divisions, including Merck & Co., Eli Lilly & Co. and AstraZeneca, which announced its own plan earlier this week.

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