Companies team up for new drug

first_imgTRENTON, N.J. – Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough Corp., partners looking to grab more of the $32 billion global cholesterol-drug market, will jointly develop a new medicine combining their Zetia with rival Pfizer Inc.’s blockbuster Lipitor. The planned drug, meant to reduce bad cholesterol levels in two ways, could hit the market when Lipitor’s patent expires in a few years, Merck and Schering-Plough said Monday. Information on when human testing would begin was not disclosed. News of the deal pushed up Schering-Plough’s shares more than 2 percent, while Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based Merck shares dipped about 1 percent. Merck and Schering-Plough have a seven-year-old joint venture that markets two cholesterol drugs: Schering-Plough’s Zetia and a combo pill launched in mid-2004 called Vytorin. It combines Zetia and Zocor, Merck’s former blockbuster, which lost patent protection in June 2006. Zetia is the only drug on sale that limits absorption of cholesterol in the digestive tract. Zocor, like other drugs in a popular class called statins, limits cholesterol production in the liver. The Merck-Schering-Plough joint venture promotes Vytorin heavily, stressing that it fights cholesterol in two ways. “We anticipate that the Lipitor/Zetia combination may be more effective than Vytorin on cholesterol reduction and could capture an even larger share of the cholesterol-management market than Vytorin,” analyst Joseph Tooley of A.G. Edwards wrote in a research note. Halit Bander, the head of New York-based Pfizer’s Lipitor medical team, said the company can’t speculate on how the new combination would work. Schering-Plough spokeswoman Mary-Fran Faraji said combining Zetia with any statin reduces cholesterol levels about an extra 20 percent, roughly three times as much benefit as just doubling a statin’s dose. “This will present, if it’s approved, an additional option for physicians and patients,” she said. “There are really tremendous unmet needs in cholesterol management.” Heart disease remains the country’s No. 1 killer and many patients are unable to reduce their level of bad cholesterol – and with it cardiac risk – as much as doctors recommend. Meanwhile, new studies reported Monday that a complementary strategy of trying to stave off heart disease by boosting good cholesterol didn’t work well and had safety problems. Lipitor, the world’s top-selling drug, currently is protected by two patents, one facing a legal challenge, according to Pfizer. It is not expected to face generic competition until March 2010 or later. Last year, Lipitor brought Pfizer $12.9 billion in revenues worldwide, more than three times the combined sales for Zetia and Vytorin of $3.86 billion.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Iceland leaders to snub 2018 World Cup in Russia

first_img0Shares0000The 2018 World Cup will see Iceland compete for the first time at the highest level © AFP/File / Mladen ANTONOVREYKJAVIK, Iceland, Mar 26 – Iceland announced Monday it will stage a diplomatic boycott of the football World Cup in Russia over the poisoning of a former double agent in Britain.“Among the measures taken by Iceland is the temporary postponement of all high-level bilateral dialogue with the Russian authorities,” the foreign ministry said in a statement said. “Consequently, Icelandic leaders will not attend the FIFA World Cup in Russia this summer,” it said.The Reykjavik government also exhorted Moscow to provide “clear answers” over the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in southwestern England on March 4.“The Salisbury attack constitutes a grave violation of international law and threatens security and peace in Europe,” the statement said.Britain announced in mid-March that British royals and ministers would stay away from the FIFA tournament set for June 14-July 15.Iceland’s decision came as 16 European Union countries on Monday gave a large number of Russian envoys notice to leave their territory.The United States, Canada and Ukraine have also announced the expulsion of dozens more Russian diplomats.Iceland, a member of NATO but not of the EU, imposed sanctions against Russia along with the EU over the annexation of Crimea.This year’s World Cup will see Iceland compete for the first time at the highest level.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more