June's top stories: Thailand free of mother-to-child HIV transmission, Jazz Pharmaceuticals acquired Celator

Thailand was certified to be free of mother-to-child HIV transmission, and Jazz Pharmaceuticals acquired Celator. Pharmaceutical-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from June 2016.


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Thailand certified to be free of mother-to-child HIV transmission

The Ministry of Public Health officially declared Thailand to be the first country in Asia to be free of the transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and syphilis from mothers to their infants.

Among one of the rare countries in the world to be certified as free of HIV transmission, Thailand reports the rate of HIV transmission from pregnant mothers to their newborn children to have fallen below 2%, declining from 10.3% in 2003 to 1.91% last year.

As per World Health Organisation (WHO) global guidelines, the mother-to-child HIV transmission can be effectively eliminated when the rate of transmission falls below 2%.

Ireland's Jazz Pharmaceuticals acquired US firm Celator for nearly $1.5bn

Irish biopharmaceutical company Jazz Pharmaceuticals entered into a definitive agreement to acquire US-based Celator Pharmaceuticals for nearly $1.5bn.

With the completion of the acquisition at $30.25 per share in cash, Jazz Pharmaceuticals will add investigational product VYXEOS to its portfolio in development as a treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

Celator announced positive results for a clinical trial of the leukaemia drug in mid-March. The data showed that the investigational drug prolonged the lives of the patients.

Cannabis claimed to serve as orphan drug for several rare medical conditions

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Online platform Medical Cannabis Declaration (MCD) stated that Cannabis serves as an orphan drug for several rare medical conditions.

An ongoing worldwide campaign seeks to inform patients that medical cannabis is used for treating diseases such as Tourette Syndrome, Stiff Person Syndrome, Achalasia, Dravet Syndrome and Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension.

Only ten out of 200 countries worldwide currently grant their patients access to cannabis for medical use, while in another 20, cannabis is as accessible as medicine only in certain cases.

Recordati acquired Italian pharmaceutical company Italchimici for €130m

International pharmaceutical group Recordati acquired 100% stake in Italian pharmaceutical company Italchimici for €130m.

Recordati has made the acquisition from Progressio SGR, manager of the fund Progressio Investimenti II, IDeA Capital Funds SGR, manager of the fund Fondo IDeA Efficienza Energetica e Sviluppo Sostenibile, and from managers of Italchimici itself.

Recordati chairman and chief executive officer Giovanni Recordati said: "The acquisition of Italchimici represents an excellent opportunity to accelerate growth within the group, and in particular the Italian market, with an interesting portfolio of well-known products that have significant market shares.

Cancer Research UK planned new bubbly drink for effective cancer treatment

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Scientists from Cancer Research UK planned to develop a drink packed with oxygen microbubbles, with an aim to provide more potential treatment for hard-to-treat tumours such as pancreatic cancer.

The tumours of pancreatic cancer significantly lack oxygen, thereby providing the patients with very limited options of treatment.

Researchers at the University of Oxford and Ulster University, a public university in Northern Ireland, are investigating ways to re-oxygenate tumours with the drink that can provide extra oxygen to the site of the tumour.

Genentech and OSI set to pay $67m to resolve False Claims Act allegations for Tarceva

US-based pharmaceutical companies Genentech and OSI Pharmaceuticals will pay $67m in order to resolve False Claims Act allegations regarding misleading statements made about the effectiveness of Tarceva for treating non-small-cell lung cancer.

Genentech and OSI Pharmaceuticals co-promote Tarceva, which received approval for the treatment of certain patients affected with non-small-cell lung cancer or pancreatic cancer.

According to the allegations, the two pharmaceutical companies made misleading representations to physicians, as well as other health care providers about the effectiveness of Tarceva between January 2006 and December 2011.

Researchers discovered heart drug Darapladibm can reduce diabetes related blindness

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Researchers at University College London (UCL) and Queen's University Belfast discovered a drug known as Darapladibm, which was originally developed to treat cardiovascular disease, has the ability to reduce diabetes-related blindness.

Diabetic macular oedema is one of the primary causes of blindness in the western world and occurs in nearly 7% of patients affected with diabetes.

Queen's University Belfast centre for experimental medicine professor Alan Stitt said: "Diabetes-related blindness is caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the blood vessels in the retina.

NIH-funded study found proper maternal folate levels reduce childhood obesity

A study led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded researchers revealed that proper maternal folate levels during pregnancy may protect children from a future risk of obesity, especially those born to women who are obese.

Folate is an essential vitamin B that helps reduce the fetus' risk for neural tube defects, which are malformations affecting the spine, brain and spinal cord of the infant.

Babies born to obese mothers have long-term health risks that include a higher risk of obesity during childhood, which may further lead to conditions such as stroke, heart disease and type II diabetes.

AbbVie, Eisai and EA Pharma received additional approval for new Humira dosing regimen

AbbVie GK, the Japanese subsidiary of AbbVie, Eisai and its subsidiary EA Pharma received the additional approval for a new dosing regimen of Humira Pre-filled Syringe 40mg / 0.8mL for Subcutaneous Injection (adalimumab [recombinant], Humira).

Humira is a fully human, anti-TNF, monoclonal antibody formulation to be used in patients suffering from moderate to severe Crohn's disease, and become less responsive to treatment with 40mg every two weeks to double the dose to 80mg every two weeks.

The usual adult dose of Humira used to treat Crohn's disease includes an initial dose of 160mg of adalimumab (recombinant) administered subcutaneously (SC) followed by 80mg SC two weeks after the initial dose, and then after four weeks of the initial dose.

UK NICE granted Technology Appraisal Guidance for Sanofi's Praluent (alirocumab)

The UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) granted Technology Appraisal Guidance (TAG) for French pharmaceutical company Sanofi's latest cholesterol-lowering treatment, Praluent (alirocumab).

The National Health Service (NHS) has 90 days to make alirocumab available across England and Wales as a treatment option for people with high levels of bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and who are at a high risk of a heart attack or stroke.

The product was co-developed by Sanofi and US-based biotechnology company Regeneron.