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January 26, 2007
Jeb Bush, Merck, and Moffitt
Florida governor Jeb Bush wants to give Merck & Co $15 million in state money in order to help them form a cancer research partnership with the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa Bay, Florida.
Sen. Rudy Garcia has asked for a deferment of approval of the funds. He said:
"I'm very leery. 'Pay us now and we'll do great work, and then we'll do the best for the people of Florida' - I want to know exactly what that means ... Once we release the money, it's gone."
Others are concerned that taxpayers haven't been given enough information about the deal and how the money will be allocated.
October 17, 2006
Merck's Diabetes Drug Januvia Approved
The FDA has approved Januvia, Merck's new drug to treat Type 2 diabetes. The drug is a once-a-day pill that is going to be one contender in the upcoming "battle of the diabetes drugs." Novartis will soon be releasing its own diabetes drug, Galvus.
So far, Januvia appears free of the side effects -- such as serious gastrointestinal problems and weight gain -- that are found in older diabetes therapies. Many fear that could change when millions begin to use the drug.
Because there are so many people with diabetes, the drug companies and investors are anxious to make money off of the situation.
Deutsche Bank research analyst Barbara Ryan, in a recent note, called diabetes "hot, hot, hot" with a market size capable of supporting "multiple new blockbuster opportunities."
Isn't it great to know that your illness is "hot, hot, hot"?
October 3, 2006
Merck Puts MK-0577 Obesity Drug On Hold
After diappointing clinical trials, Merck has put obesity treatment MK-0577 on hold.
The [phase 1] results spurred Merck to initiate a yearlong phase 2 study involving more than 1,600 patients who received placebo or MK-0557. The placebo group lost an average of 4 pounds compared to 7.5 pounds in the MK-0557 group. The difference was statistically significant, but it was not enough to support using the compound as a treatment for obesity, [Steven] Heymsfield said.
September 28, 2006
Merck Invests in FoxHollow Technologies
Merck will pay $195 million for an 11 percent stake in FoxHollow Technologies, Inc.
FoxHollow, which makes a device for removing the fatty substance that builds up in arteries and leads to heart attacks, will provide services such as plaque removal to help develop medicines for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.
September 23, 2006
Merck Named and Shamed
A watchdog group called the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority, an arm of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, has called out Merck under its new "name-and-shame" policy.
This week, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry's watchdog arm ran advertisements in the British Medical Journal and the Pharmaceutical Journal criticizing Merck Sharp & Dohme for taking out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant nine doctors, a pharmacist, and a number of spouses. There was not sufficient educational content at the meeting according to the group's guidelines, the association said.
A Merck spokesperson admitted that the amount of educational material at the dinner was "insufficient and unacceptable."
Hey, let's bring some of this naming and shaming over to this side of the pond!
August 22, 2006
Merck Loses Two Times in One Day
Merck had two losses related to Vioxx lawsuits in the same day last week. A jury decided that Merck should pay $51 million to a retired FBI agent who says Vioxx caused his heart attack. On the same day, a judge ordered a new trial in a Vioxx case that Merck had already won.
Despite the setbacks, Merck said it will continue its strategy of fighting each of the 16,000 Vioxx lawsuits filed so far.
August 3, 2006
Merck Wins Latest Vioxx Lawsuit
Merck has won the latest Vioxx lawsuit, with jurors finding that the drug was not responsible for 71-year-old Stewart Grossberg's heart problems. This is the fifth Vioxx lawsuit the company has won, with at least 16,000 more to go.
After deliberating several hours in California's first trial over Vioxx, the eight-man, four-woman jury determined that Merck was not negligent, did not conceal information and the drug did not cause Stewart Grossberg's health problems.
I can see why it's quite difficult to prove that a 71-year-old's heart problems were caused by a drug. So many things can cause heart problems in an elderly person. I think Merck is going to win most of these lawsuits. However, I think they're going to have a harder time winning the Fosamax lawsuits because it's a much clearer case of cause and effect. People don't get jaw necrosis every day.
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