PHARMACY

Roche’s Humer steps down as CEO, remains chairman

BY Drew Buono

ZURICH, Switzerland Roche Holding’s chief executive officer Franz Humer stepped down from his position yesterday, turning over the reigns to Severin Schwan, formerly the head of the company’s diagnostics unit, according to Reuters.

Humer resigns at a time when Roche is booming in the pharmaceutical market. According to a speech made by Humer at the company’s annual general meeting, “Roche’s growth is very broadly based and, with the exception of CellCept, which is used in transplantation, none of our major products is facing patent expiry in the next few years. “This situation is very different to that of our competitors.”

Schwan, the new chief executive at Roche, aims to enhance the company’s position in personalized medicine, developing technology to help researchers and doctors select the right drugs for individual patients.

Humer will remain as Roche’s chairman.

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PHARMACY

Lilly and PsychoGenics partner on neuropsychiatric disorder treatments

BY Drew Buono

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. PsychoGenics and Eli Lilly have entered into a drug discovery agreement aimed at identifying drug candidates suitable for clinical developments.

Per the agreement, Lilly will supply precandidate compounds that PsychoGenics will evaluate using its proprietary drug discovery technologies for the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. Upon Lilly’s further development of clinical candidates, PsychoGenics would receive research and milestone payments, as well as royalties.

Emer Leahy, president and chief executive officer of PsychoGenics, said, “We are delighted to once again work with Lilly and play an integral and expanding role in a successful drug discovery collaboration. We are confident that by combining the complementary strengths and expertise of PsychoGenics and Lilly, we may identify a new generation of treatments for neuropsychiatric disorders.”

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Roche asks for clearance to bring Mircera to market

BY Drew Buono

BASEL, Switzerland Roche is asking a U.S. judge for clearance to sell an anti-anemia drug by offering a royalty to Amgen and offering the drug at a price that is lower than what Amgen charges for its top anemia drug, according to published reports.

Roche won regulatory approval for Mircera as a treatment for anemia associated with kidney disease in November. But it hasn’t brought the drug to market because it lost a civil trial in October in which a federal jury found Mircera violated patents held by Amgen. Amgen sells drugs Aranesp and Epogen to treat anemia associated with kidney disease and cancer chemotherapy.

Although Roche lost the patent trial to Amgen, it is now seeking permission from Judge William Young to bring Mircera to the market by arguing that it would serve the public interest. Roche also has proposed selling Mircera at an initial “wholesale acquisition cost” that is about 5 percent less than the current “average selling price” of Amgen’s Aranesp. Also, it would pay Amgen a royalty 20 percent of net sales of Mircera while Amgen’s patents are still enforced, assuming the original ruling of infringement stands.

Roche said it would begin taking steps to market Mircera if the judge doesn’t rule on Amgen’s injunction request on Feb. 28, when oral arguments are scheduled in the case. Roche would be doing this even though they would be at risk to pay Amgen penalties if the infringement case isn’t overturned.

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