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Battle rages over anti-thrombotic medicine

Sandoz/Momenta are ahead again in the fight for the lucrative anticoagulants market in the US. According to IMS Health data enoxaparin sodium injection is the best-selling hospital medicine in the US, and has been described as the ‘gold standard’ for anti-thrombotic treatments. Lovenox, sanofi-aventis’ reference product, recorded US sales of US$2.7 billion in 2009 and has been used to treat an estimated 200 million patients worldwide since it was launched.

US$1 billion for cancer R & D

GE Healthcare, the health business of General Electric, provides advanced cancer diagnostic and molecular imaging capabilities, as well as technologies for the manufacture of biopharmaceuticals and for cancer research. Its presence at the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress 2011 in Stockholm indicated its commitment to strengthening cancer diagnosis and care. Similarly at the 53rd Annual American Society for Radiation Oncology Meeting in Miami Beach, Florida, USA, it was showcasing a number of new tools designed specifically for the needs of radiation oncologists.

FDA new drug approvals up in 2011: 900 biotech drugs in development

FDA had already approved 26 new drugs by the end of August 2011 compared to only 21 approved in 2010. Of note were six cancer drugs and two ground-breaking drugs for hepatitis C. The current year looks likely set a record for recent years for new drug approvals, which may total 35–40 by the end of 2011. After a slow start in the first two months with three new drug approvals and nine rejections in January and February 2011, FDA approved four new drugs, two of which were monoclonal antibodies, in March and five in April. Of the 11 new drugs approved in the first four months, only three biologicals were approved.

Biocon announces Malaysia manufacturing plant

Biocon, a global biopharmaceutical company with high-tech manufacturing and research arms, announced in September 2011 ‘project commencement for its first high-end biopharmaceutical manufacturing and R & D facility in Bio-XCell, Malaysia’ [1]. Malaysia, epitomised by the Bio-XCell biotechnology park, is considered ‘an ideal location to manufacture generics’ by industry analysts Frost & Sullivan.

Biosimilar user fees proposal under review

Proposals over biosimilar user fees appear to have been ratified by stakeholders and a proposal is now under review by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Rituximab biosimilar successfully produced in plants

iBio, a leader in the plant-made pharmaceutical field, announced on 5 October 2011 that it had successfully expanded the use of its technology to biosimilar monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) by producing rituximab in non-transgenic green plants.

Cheap biosimilars to come from India and China

On 19-20 September 2011, the United Nations (UN) held a High-Level Meeting to develop a global strategy to fight non-communicable diseases, ‘principally cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes.’ It is only the second global health issue that the UN General Assembly has deemed urgent enough to call a meeting to discuss. Such diseases cause approximately two-thirds of all deaths.

A snapshot of interesting new approvals by FDA

New approvals by FDA look set reach record levels in 2011. Some noteworthy drugs already approved in 2011 are discussed below.

EMA plans to revise biosimilar guidelines

EMA announced on 3 October 2011 that it has published a concept paper asking for comments on topics to be included in a potential revision of the agency’s 2006 biosimilar guideline, which covers non-clinical and clinical development of biosimilars. The paper will be released for a 3-month consultation period.

Biosimilar user fee levels and performance goals for the FDA

FDA and representatives from the drug industry negotiating a user fee for biosimilars have tentatively set performance goals and biosimilar user fee levels, creating a separate review programme for biosimilars.

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