Inside these posts: Drugs

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Report: Medical marijuana market growing quickly

CHICAGO — It has been called a lot of things over the years: grass, Mary Jane, wacky weed. Now, researchers are suggesting a new moniker for marijuana: alternative investment.

A report out this week on the U.S. medical marijuana market estimates the unconventional business already generates $1.7 billion in economic activity a year. But that market could grow fivefold in short order, researchers say, as the list of states that legalize pot for treating a variety of illnesses grows and as more patients try it — and switch. Get the full story »

U.S. warns against Abbott drug in premature babies

U.S. health officials cautioned against the use of Abbott Laboratories’ HIV drug Kaletra in premature babies because they could be at greater risk for serious and possibly fatal side effects.

In a warning issued on Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration said oral solutions of the drug given to premature babies could raise the risk of serious heart, kidney, or breathing trouble. Get the full story »

Lundbeck seeks FDA approval of epilepsy drug

Lundbeck Inc. said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will review its experimental drug for a rare epilepsy disorder.

Deerfield-based Lundbeck, the U.S. subsidiary of Denmark’s H. Lundbeck SA, said the drug, clobazam, is a therapy used to treat “seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome in patients two years and older.” Known as “LGS,” the disease is typically diagnosed in childhood, the company said. Lundbeck hopes to eventually market the drug here under the trade name Onfi. Get the full story »

BioSante shares up after cancer drug meets goals

BioSante Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Thursday its potential pancreatic cancer treatment met key goals in a midstage study.

The company’s stock surged 32 cents, or 16 percent, to $2.35 in premarket trading.

The company said a newly published study showed the vaccine increased the median survival rate of patients by more than 25 percent to 24.8 months. The results were published in the February issue of the Annals of Surgery and involved 60 patients undergoing treatment at the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center in Baltimore. Get the full story »

Abbott wins appeal of Humira patent enfringement

Abbott's Humira drug. (Handout)

Turning back a threat to sales of Abbott Laboratories’ most lucrative drug, a federal appeals court Wednesday overturned a lower court ruling that claimed the North Chicago drug giant used Johnson & Johnson’s technology to make  a blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug.

Humira is Abbott’s largest-selling product and one of the world’s top-selling drugs, generating more than $5 billion in annual sales as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and psoriasis among other autoimmune disorders.

The ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eastern District of Texas overturned a $1.67 billion verdict against Abbott from Marshall County. At the time of the lower court ruling last year, observers said it was known for being friendly to plaintiffs. Get the full story »

Panel: Lilly pancreas drug doesn’t work well enough

Eli Lilly & Co failed to win support from a U.S. advisory panel Wednesday for what aims to be the first drug not made from pig enzymes to help certain pancreatic patients digest food. The drug was designed to compete with Abbott Labs’ drug Creon, among others. Get the full story »

Lilly, Boehringer collaborate on diabetes drugs

Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. will team with German drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim to develop diabetes treatments, as the U.S. pharmaceutical company pushes to fill a looming revenue gap created by expiring patents for several key drugs. Get the full story »

Abbott lobbying budget rises to $910,000 in 3Q

Drug and medical device maker Abbott Laboratories spent $910,000 in the third quarter to lobby the federal government on policies affecting its products. Get the full story »

Abbott, AstraZeneca end Certriad development pact

Abbott Laboratories and British drug giant AstraZeneca have decided to stop developing the drug Certriad, a pill that combines drugs already on the market.

Such combination pills are developed as a convenience to consumers by having several different drugs in one pill, but criticized by consumer groups, health plans and employers as a way for the drug makers to extend patents and continue charging high prices. Critics say the ingredients generally used in the pills have cheaper generic copies or similar less expensive rivals already on the market.

The Certiad product included a combination of a statin and a fenofibrate. There are already generic statins and fenofibrates on the market. Get the full story »

Novartis to cut 1,400 sales positions from U.S. unit

Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG said Tuesday it will eliminate 1,400 U.S. sales jobs by Jan. 1.

The company said it will cut the jobs from the sales force of its general medicines business, as sales at that business will be hurt after the patent on its high blood pressure drug Diovan expires. Novartis said it plans to focus more resources on its primary care and specialty care businesses.

Merck ‘good cholesterol’ drug study wows doctors

Dr. Christopher Cannon, the leader of a study on an experimental Merck cholesterol drug, at the Chicago AHA conference. (AP Photo/AHA)

Merck’s highly potent drug to raise heart-protective HDL cholesterol may give doctors a new sledgehammer against heart attacks and strokes, and be prescribed as often as the leading current statin treatments for heart disease, doctors said on Wednesday.

Thousands of doctors listened raptly earlier at midday as researchers presented findings from a highly anticipated study of Merck’s drug, anacetrapib, at the annual scientific meeting of the American Heart Association in Chicago.

They were told that levels of HDL in patients taking the pill jumped 138 percent during the 18-month study, while levels of artery-clogging “bad” LDL cholesterol fell 40 percent. Get the full story »

Bayer, J&J anti-clot drug shines in stroke trial

A once-daily pill being developed by Bayer AG and Johnson & Johnson was better at preventing stroke than standard treatment, with less risk of the most worrisome types of bleeding, researchers said on Monday. Get the full story »

Walgreen Co. CEO emphasizes health, wellness

Walgreens chief executive officer Greg Wasson this morning said the drugstore chain will step up investments in services to help Americans manage chronic diseases, saying the company wants to capitalize on what he called the “retailization” of the nation’s health care system.

The Deerfield-based pharmacy giant, meeting with Wall Street analysts and investors, said it wants to continue to expand its network of medical care providers and the services they provide. Walgreens increasingly has been lobbying to give pharmacists a greater role in medical care such as providing immunizations in its stores as well as establishing retail health clinics staffed by nurse practitioners. Get the full story »

Bayer, J&J blood pill shows mass-market promise

A new stroke prevention drug developed by Bayer and Johnson & Johnson proved a safe alternative to the standard treatment, lifting their chances of entering a $12 billion plus market, the German drug company said.

A late-stage study called Rocket-AF showed that the Xarelto pill was as good as the established warfarin pill at reducing the risk of strokes due to a form of irregular heartbeat that is common among the elderly, Bayer said on Sunday. Get the full story »

Baxter selling generic injectables business for $112M

Baxter International Inc. announced the sale of its U.S. generic injectables business to Hikma Pharmaceuticals PLC for approximately $112 million, a move that will require Baxter to take an after-tax third-quarter special charge of $70 million, or 12 cents a share, to write down the assets of the business.

The sale involves Baxter’s high-volume, generic injectable products in vials and ampoules, which are sold primarily in the United States including chronic pain, anti-infective and anti-emetic products, along with the Cherry Hill, N.J., manufacturing facility, and a Memphis-area warehouse and distribution center. Approximately 750 employees who support the business will also transfer as part of the arrangement. Get the full story »