Archive for the ‘Pharmaceuticals’ category

New Drugs Could Treat Drug-Resistant Skin Cancer

March 9, 2015

Drug-Resistant Skin Cancer pic A new group of drugs could treat incurable skin cancer, a recent study shows. Clinical trials to test the new drugs could begin in 2015. The current available treatments, which target a cancer-causing protein known as BRAF that instigate about 50 percent of melanomas, are initially highly effective. However, the cancer builds resistance to these drugs in a year.

The new drugs, which are known as panRAF inhibitors, could be useful for patients with melanoma who have become resistant to BRAF inhibitors. Researchers at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute and The Institute of Cancer Research, London, found that the new drugs halted the growth of BRAF-instigated melanomas, which include melanomas that no longer responded to the current drugs that target BRAF.

In addition, the new drugs eliminated tumor growth for cancers in which BRAF-targeted drugs never worked at all. The researchers said that the new treatment attacks cancer without any possibility of drug resistance and can simultaneously block several cancer proteins. They added that the new drugs are more effective than the current available treatments in that they target a number of “cell survival routes” at the same time. The researchers hope that the new drugs will provide much-needed treatment for patients who have no other options.


Rosenwald Discusses Success of Abiraterone Acetate

November 5, 2014

Abiraterone Acetate pic In a recent interview with CNN iReport, Dr. Lindsay Rosenwald discussed abiraterone acetate, a drug developed by Cougar Biotechnology that is one of the most promising cancer treatments available. The drug has demonstrated a significantly higher survival rate among patients with late-stage prostate cancer, and in trials, it has shown that it could benefit patients with advanced breast cancer. Rosenwald said the drug, which inhibits the growth of androgens that encourage cancer, is in on track to be a “multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical.” Rosenwald is a co-founder and original financial backer of Cougar Biotechnology.

Marketed as Zytiga, abiraterone acetate has the potential to prolong or enhance the lives of thousands of people, Rosenwald said in the interview. As people live longer, they are exposed to more cancer-causing agents that require the development of alternative treatment options.

Zytiga was released to the market in 2011 after being tested on more than 1,200 patients with advanced prostate cancer. Cougar Biotechnology, which was acquired for more than $1 billion by Johnson & Johnson during clinical trials for abiraterone acetate, now operates as a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical giant.

Three Common Fibromyalgia Treatments

September 8, 2014

Fibromyalgia pic A disorder characterized by musculoskeletal pain throughout the body, fibromyalgia is a complicated condition that researchers have yet to fully understand. Because there is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, treatment focuses primarily on symptom management. Here are three common fibromyalgia treatments:

Pain relievers—Because fibromyalgia patients typically experience high levels of pain, over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, are commonly prescribed. Doctors may also recommend a prescription pain reliever such as tramadol. Narcotics like oxycodone are rarely used, as they can actually worsen pain over time and lead to dependence.

Antidepressants—In recent years, physicians have begun prescribing antidepressants like milnacipran and duloxetine to relieve much of the fatigue and pain caused by fibromyalgia. For individuals experiencing difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, doctors may also prescribe a sedative, such as fluoxetine or amitriptyline.

Anti-seizure medication—Some fibromyalgia patients respond well to epilepsy drugs, such as gabapentin and pregabalin, which was the first fibromyalgia drug to earn apAnti-seizure medicationproval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Despite New Onyx Drug, Amgen Performs Below Predictions

August 21, 2014

Amgen logo pic Last fall, Amgen Inc. made waves in the biotech industry by purchasing Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. for $10.4 billion. The deal came after Onyx turned down the company’s initial $10 billion offer in June 2013. In its first quarter since purchasing the biotech start-up, Amgen reported lower-than-forecasted earnings. Although sales increased from the same period in 2013, the pharmaceutical giant’s revenues fell $230 million short of estimates. The company attributes the gap primarily to a drop in sales of Enbrel, an anti-inflammatory drug. Meanwhile, analysis shows that Onyx’s multiple myeloma drug, Kyprolis, generated $68 million, and drugs such as Xgeva and Prolia helped drive sales growth by approximately 5 percent.

Despite the fact that Kyprolis contributed $68 million to the company’s bottom line, the purchase of Onyx also affected Amgen’s first-quarter earnings. According to officials, research and development costs increased by more than 15 percent during the quarter as Amgen integrated Onyx’s existing programs. Although Amgen may see some slowed growth as a result of the growing biosimilar market, analysts predict that Kyprolis could hit peak sales of $2.4 billion in five years.

Pfizer, AstraZeneca Continue to Attempt Merger

July 18, 2014

pfizer logo pic  In early 2014, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Inc., began pursuing the possibility of a merger with AstraZeneca PLC. Although talks stalled mid-January, Pfizer recently submitted a new proposal to the company on April 26th, which valued AstraZeneca at approximately $100 billion. The proposal offered shareholders a substantial cash payment as well as stock in the newly combined company. AstraZeneca has once again turned down the lucrative offer, but Pfizer has stated in a press release that it continues to believe that the merger would be extremely beneficial to both companies. Both firms would attain greater footholds in the global market and be able to streamline a variety of financial and operational functions. Furthermore, consumers would benefit from a “strengthened presence in breast cancer,” “opportunities for greater depth in immuno-oncology,” and a “complementary portfolio of important cardiovascular medicines.”

In the days following Pfizer’s proposal, the stocks of both companies saw notable increases. Shares in AstraZeneca jumped by 12.2 percent, while those of Pfizer increased by 4.2 percent. If talks do reignite and a deal is consummated, it would result in the largest foreign takeover of a British business.

Breakthrough Opens Up New Avenues for Antibiotic Research and Development

November 8, 2013

In an article published in PLOS Genetics on October 31, 2013, Oregon State University researchers disclosed details of a discovery they made during studies of the DNA sequencing of the common cereal fungi fusarium graminearum. Conducted with support from the American Cancer Society and the National Institutes of Health, the research revealed that one gene in the pathogen acts as a switch or “master regulator” that silences more than 2,000 other genes. By deleting the gene, researchers have gained access to numerous gene expressions that could produce previously unknown compounds with applications in biofuel manufacturing, agriculture, and numerous other industries.

Because fungi have antibacterial properties, the discovery is of particular note to medical professionals, who have long been struggling with the advent of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Concurrent with the increasing concern over antibiotic resistance is an alarming dearth of new drugs to combat the problem. To encourage the research and development of new antibiotics, the United States government passed the GAIN (Generating Antibiotics Incentives Now) Act in 2011, which extends the exclusivity period of new drugs that meet the qualifications for an infectious disease product set by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Despite this, the development of new antibiotic compounds has continued to stagnate, with just two new antibiotics gaining FDA approval in the last five years. Because the return on investment for the development of new antibiotic drugs is so small, large pharmaceutical firms in particular are shying away from antibiotics research.

Fortunately, several biotech companies, such as GlaxoSmithKline, Cempra, and Evotec AG, have positioned themselves to meet the need created by antibiotic resistant bacteria by forming partnerships to accelerate drug development. With the announcement of the breakthrough by Oregon State University researchers, possible new research avenues might entice more companies to establish similar partnerships or create programs of their own.

Amgen Purchases Rights to Filgrastim and Pegfilgrastim

November 7, 2013

Leading biologics manufacturer Amgen, Inc., recently announced its acquisition of the rights to sell and distribute the drugs filgrastim and pegfilgrastim in close to 100 markets. Previously owned by F. Hoffmann-La Roche (Roche) under license from Kirin-Amgen, Inc., a partnership between Amgen and Japanese company Kirin Holdings Co. Limited, the franchise rights to the African, American, Asian, Eastern European, Latin American, and Middle Eastern markets earned $200 million in sales for Roche in 2012 alone. Sold under the names Neupogen and Neulasta in the United States and Europe, filgrastim and pegfilgrastim boost white blood cell counts of patients undergoing chemotherapy, thus helping them resist infections.

The deal will begin to take effect January 1, 2014, in a gradual transition designed to ensure that doctors and patients continue to have access to these potentially life-saving drugs. Consequently, Roche will distribute the drugs in countries where Amgen does not have a market presence until Amgen is able to establish a distribution pipeline. The resulting growth in previously untapped markets will enable Amgen to create reliable distribution networks in these areas and reach more patients worldwide.

Indicative of Amgen’s faith in its ability to drive sales effectively in the formerly Roche-controlled areas, the acquisition closely precedes the expiration of Amgen’s patent on filgrastim, which will be facing new competition from tbo-filgrastim, an unofficial filgrastim biosimilar manufactured by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd. Although biotech insiders predict that Amgen may lose up to 40 percent of franchise sales from both filgrastim and pegfilgrastim by 2018, the biotech giant continues to show sales growth, as reported in its third-quarter results for 2013. Amgen experienced total revenue growth of 10 percent over the third quarter as well as an 11 percent increase in product sales, which were generated in part by revenue from its brand-name pegfilgrastim (Neulasta) and filgrastim (Neupogen) drugs.