PHARMACY

Schering-Plough gets green light for mental illness treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug for treating schizophrenia and bipolar I disorder, the agency announced Friday.

The FDA approved Schering-Plough Corp.’s Saphris (asenapine), a tablet for treating the two illnesses in adults.

“Mental illnesses like schizophrenia and biopolar disorder can be devastating to patients and families, requiring lifelong treatment and therapy,” FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Division of Psychology Products director Thomas Laughren said in a statement. “Effective medicines can help people with mental illnesses live more independent lives.”

Because it belongs to the class known as atypical antipsychotics, Saphris carries a boxed warning, the FDA’s strongest warning label. The warning alerts prescribers to the risk of death when the drug is used to treat behavioral problems in elderly people with dementia-related psychosis. The drug is not approved for treating that condition.

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Study finds link between radiation therapy in children, diabetes

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Children with cancer who undergo a common cancer therapy may be at increased risk of developing diabetes, according to research published recently in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers at Emory University found that childhood cancer survivors who had received total-body or abdominal radiation therapy had increased risk of developing cancer, with the risk increasing more than twofold if they received a cancer diagnosis before age 5, compared with those diagnosed in late adolescence. Out of a total of 8,599 survivors diagnosed before age 21, 2.5% developed diabetes, compared with 1.7% of their 2,936 siblings, apparently regardless of body mass index.

“It is likely that this additional chronic disease in childhood cancer survivors, who frequently also sustain damage to the heart, kidneys and endocrine system, will lead to further morbidity and premature mortality,” the authors of the study wrote. “Therefore, it is imperative that clinicians recognize this risk, screen for diabetes and prediabetes when appropriate and approach survivors with aggressive risk-reducing strategies.”

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Sun sets on company’s acquisition of Taro

BY Alaric DeArment

MUMBAI, India Indian generic drug maker Sun Pharmaceutical Industries’ tender offer to acquire Israeli drug maker Taro Pharmaceutical Industries has expired, Sun announced Thursday.

Sun said it plans to renew its offer to buy the company through subsidiary Alkaloida Chemical Co. Exclusive Group, but the offer is subject to an order issued by the Supreme Court of Israel prohibiting its closing until the court resolves litigation against Alkaloida by Taro concerning the application of Israeli laws regulating mergers and acquisitions.

Sun has sought to acquire Taro since June 2008. As of Wednesday, more than 32,000 shares of Taro had been tendered.

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