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Good morning, everyone, and welcome to another working week. We hope the weekend respite was relaxing and invigorating, because that familiar routine has now returned with a vengeance. Our to-do list is quickly piling up with deadlines, meetings, and the usual whatnot. We trust you can relate. So to cope, please join us for a few cups of needed stimulation. Our flavor today is Rain Forest Nut, for those keeping track. Meanwhile, here are some tidbits. Hope you have a smashing day and do stay in touch …

GlaxoSmithKline chairman Philip Hampton has begun the process of seeking a new chief executive to succeed Andrew Witty, although a change is not expected before 2017, The Telegraph writes. The move comes following calls by some shareholders to revamp strategy and sell off certain businesses, such as the HIV unit. But Glaxo has privately argued that a diversified portfolio is a buffer against “increased macroeconomic uncertainty.”

Valeant Pharmaceuticals chief executive Michael Pearson has returned following a medical leave and board member Robert Ingram was named chairman, according to this statement. As a result, the drug maker is rescheduling plans to discuss preliminary fourth quarter 2015 results, as well as a business review and updated guidance for the year. The drug maker is also withdrawing its previous financial guidance.


Heartbreaking anecdotes about sick or suffering patients will not overcome any shortcomings that in weak trial data, Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, tells Bloomberg News. Her remarks come as patient advocacy groups ratchet up the pressure on the agency to approve more drugs faster. But she says that FDA officials would prefer to see more randomized clinical trials, a step some companies skip.

The Gilead Sciences executive who oversees efforts to bring the company’s pricey hepatitis C pills to poor countries tries to explain how to accomplish this without losing money. And he tells Bloomberg News that it’s frustrating that the effort is overshadowed by criticism of its pricing in the US. However, Gilead tries to explain the value of its medicines, Gregg Alton said, “it’s never going to be as powerful as ‘$1,000 a pill? Is that fair?’”


More doctors are using social media to discuss and promote medicines, but their remarks on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube rarely disclose any financial ties to drug makers, STAT reports. Critics say the trend is worrisome, although some organizations are responding. The Massachusetts Medical Society recently adopted a rule that requires doctors to disclose all financial relationships concerning a medical procedure or service that they review or discuss online.

Bristol-Myers Squibb is leading the race to dominate the cancer immunotherapy market, but other drug makers — Roche, Merck and AstraZeneca — can still close the gap, according to Reuters. Bristol-Myers has experienced rapid success in marketing its Opdivo treatment for lung cancer, which has not only boosted Wall Street sales forecasts, but increasingly convinced doctors to use drugs that boost the immune system to fight cancer.

Following arbitration, Germany’s Central Federal Association of Health Insurance reduced the price of PTC Therapeutics’ Duchenne muscular dystrophy treatment by 65 percent, TheStreet reports.

Roche suffered a setback as one of two identical Phase 3 studies testing an asthma drug failed to help patients, Reuters says. The first study met its primary goal and significantly reduced exacerbations, the second did not.

Bial says its drug met safety and tolerability requirements for human trials, but it may have caused lesions in dogs in a preclinical study, InPharma Technologist writes. A recent human trial led to a patient death.

Lured by the prices that rare disease drugs command, Sanofi is eyeing acquisitions as part of its turnaround strategy, The Financial Times tells us.

The Eylea injection sold by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals was no more effective in treating diabetic macular edema than Roche’s Lucentis after two years, according to a study, Bloomberg News writes.

AstraZeneca sold the rights to two older heart medicines to China Medical System Holdings for $500 million, according to Reuters.

AbbVie and Boehringer Ingelheim are holding talks about a “significant” partnerships to expand their portfolios of cancer treatments, Bloomberg News says.

Perdue Farms says it plans to eliminate antibiotics used in chicken that it sells as nuggets and strips by June, according to The Wall Street Journal.