Facing rival drugs, Novartis gets win with Afinitor in Europe

2016-06-02 12:17:29

ZURICH Efforts by Novartis to defend its blockbuster cancer drug Afinitor against competitors got a boost on Thursday from European regulators, who approved it for use on certain types of advanced gastrointestinal and lung neuroendocrine tumors.Afinitor posted $1.61 billion in sales in 2015 but has been under pressure in some areas of disease including kidney cancer as rivals drugs have been shown in trials to be more effective.Novartis Chief Executive Joe Jimenez has acknowledged competition from Bristol-Myers Squibb's immunotherapy drug Opdivo and Exelixis's Cometriq could temper Afinitor's growth, but has maintained the drug's promise lies in multiple applications for different tumors. That was underscored by Thursday's European approval for the drug to be used against nonfunctional gastrointestinal and lung neuroendocrine tumors, rare cancers that in many people are diagnosed at advanced stages when they are difficult to fight. "We are pleased that this latest milestone makes Afinitor available to patients in the EU who previously had few or no approved treatment options," Bruno Strigini, president of Novartis Oncology, said in a statement.Afinitor had been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2012 for a certain type of breast cancer and its label has expanded since then. In February, the FDA approved the drug for similar uses that on Thursday were the subject of the European approval.Neuroendocrine tumors are a type of cancer that originate in neuroendocrine cells, and most commonly arise in the GI tract, lungs or pancreas. Symptoms include intestinal obstruction, pain and bleeding, as well as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia. Consensus forecasts have pointed to Afinitor sales peaking at more than $2 billion in 2018, according to Thomson Reuters Cortellis. (Reporting by John Miller; Editing by David Holmes)

Japan's Abe points to 2008 crisis as G7 leaders debate global risk

2016-05-26 13:13:07

ISE-SHIMA, Japan Group of Seven leaders voiced concern about emerging economies at a summit in Japan on Thursday as their host, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, made a pointed comparison to the 2008 global financial crisis but not all his G7 partners appeared to agree.The G7 leaders did agree on the need for flexible spending to spur world growth but the timing and amount depended on each country, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko told reporters, adding some countries saw no need for such spending.Britain and Germany have been resisting calls for fiscal stimulus."G7 leaders voiced the view that emerging economies are in a severe situation, although there were views that the current economic situation is not a crisis," Seko said after the first day of a two-day G7 summit in Ise-Shima, central Japan.Abe presented data showing global commodities prices fell 55 percent from June 2014 to January 2016, the same margin as from July 2008 to February 2009, after the Lehman collapse.Lehman had been Wall Street's fourth-largest investment bank when it filed for Chapter 11 protection on Sept. 15, 2008, making its bankruptcy by far the biggest in U.S. history. Its failure triggered the global financial crisis.Abe hopes, some political insiders say, to use a G7 statement on the global economy as cover for a domestic fiscal package including the possible delay of a rise in the nation's sales tax to 10 percent from 8 percent planned for next April. Obama told a news conference that he stressed the importance of pushing back against competitive currency devaluations, which some countries might be tempted to use to boost exports.Other summit topics include terrorism, cyber security and maritime security, especially China's increasing assertiveness in the East and South China Seas, where Beijing has territorial disputes with Japan and several Southeast Asian nations.G7 leaders agreed that it was important to send a clear signal on the South and East China Seas, Seko told reporters, adding China was mentioned in discussions on maritime matters on Thursday.At a news conference late on Wednesday, Abe said Japan welcomed China's peaceful rise while repeating Tokyo's opposition to acts that try to change the status quo by force and urging respect of the rule of law - principles expected to be mentioned in a statement after the summit. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the South China Sea issue had "nothing to do" with the G7 or any of its member states."China is resolutely opposed to individual countries hyping up the South China Sea for personal gain," Hua said.Obama pointed to the threat from North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, saying the isolated state was "hell bent" on getting atomic weapons. But he said there had been improved responses from countries in the region like China that could reduce the risk of Pyongyang selling nuclear material.G7 leaders were rattled by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Obama said, adding Trump's statements displayed ignorance and were aimed at getting headlines, not what was needed to keep America safe and the world on an even keel. Summit pageantry began when Abe escorted G7 leaders to the Shinto religion's holiest site, the Ise Grand Shrine in central Japan, dedicated to sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami, mythical ancestress of the emperor. Abe has said he hopes the shrine visit will provide an insight to the heart of Japanese culture. Critics say he's catering to a conservative base that wants to put religion back in politics and revive traditional values.On Wednesday night, Abe met Obama for talks dominated by the arrest of a U.S. military base civilian worker in connection with the killing of a young woman on Japan's southern Okinawa island, reluctant host to the bulk of the U.S. military in Japan. The attack has marred Obama's hopes of keeping his Japan trip strictly focused on his visit on Friday to Hiroshima, site of the world's first atomic bombing, to highlight reconciliation between the two former World War Two foes and his nuclear anti-proliferation agenda.The G7 groups Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. (Additional reporting by Thomas Wilson, Kiyoshi Takenaka, Kylie MacLellan, Ami Miyazaki, and Ben Blanchard; Writing by Linda Sieg; Editing by Nick Macfie)

South Carolina bans abortion after 19 weeks

2016-05-18 06:13:05

CHARLESTON, SC The South Carolina legislature on Tuesday passed a bill banning most abortions after 19 weeks of pregnancy unless the mother's life was at risk, making it the 17th U.S. state to approve such a ban.The bill will head to Republican Governor Nikki Haley's desk, who indicated in March that she would likely sign the legislation.Her office could not be immediately reached for comment.The act, proposed last year in South Carolina's Republican-controlled legislature, passed after it was stripped of exceptions for pregnancies that result from rape of incest. The Senate had approved the bill in March. Sixteen other states have passed similar laws as conservatives seek to chip away at the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision to legalize abortion. Courts have overturned the bans in three states."I believe that life begins at conception and every step we can take to get back to that point is important," the bill's sponsor, Republican Representative Wendy Nanney, said in a phone interview. "In my view and many others it's inhumane to subject that baby to pain at 20 weeks." Critics have said the name of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act goes against medical evidence showing that a fetus at 20 weeks cannot feel pain."This is a dangerous bill for South Carolina women ..., made even more extreme by removing exceptions for victims of rape and incest," Alyssa Miller, South Carolina director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said in a statement. "The reality is that abortion later in pregnancy is extremely rare and often takes place in complex and difficult situations where a woman and her doctor need every medical option available," Miller said. (Reporting by Harriet McLeod in Charleston, South Carolina; Editing by Curtis Skinner and Richard Chang)

Data shows Zika virus stays longer in urine than blood-U.S. CDC

2016-05-11 07:17:07

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its diagnostic testing guidelines for the Zika virus on Tuesday, based on early data showing that it can be found at higher levels or last longer in urine than in blood.The agency now recommends that its preferred diagnostic test, called Zika virus RT-PCR, be conducted on urine collected less than 14 days after the individual suspected of having the disease starts experiencing symptoms. (1.usa.gov/27bd489)The test should be performed in conjunction with blood testing if the specimens are collected less than seven days after the onset of symptoms, the CDC said.A positive result in either case provides adequate evidence of infection, the agency said. The CDC recommendations for Zika testing though blood and other procedures remain unchanged.The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Zika outbreak an international health emergency on Feb. 1. The outbreak is affecting large parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, with Brazil the hardest hit so far. U.S. health officials have concluded that Zika infections in pregnant women can cause microcephaly, a birth defect that can lead to severe developmental problems in babies. The virus is also linked to a host of other debilitating disorders. (Reporting by Natalie Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Ted Kerr)

Baidu CEO tells staff to put values before profit after cancer death scandal

2016-05-10 17:48:05

BEIJING Baidu Inc's CEO has called on employees to put values before profit in response to a scandal around the death of a student who underwent an experimental cancer treatment he found on the company's search website.Before his death, student Wei Zexi, 21, criticized the military-run hospital that provided the failed treatment for misleading claims about its effectiveness and accused Baidu, which controls 80 percent of the Chinese search market, of promoting false medical information.In a letter to employees seen by Reuters, Baidu chief executive Robin Li wrote: "If we lose the support of users, we lose hold of our values, and Baidu will truly go bankrupt in just 30 days!"Li's letter said employees were making compromises for the sake of commercial interests and placing earnings growth above user experience.The controversy over Wei's death, which erupted at the beginning of the month, prompted regulators on Monday to impose curbs on the advertising business Baidu relies on for the lion's share of its income. Baidu said on Monday it would comply with the regulators' decision, which followed a probe launched early last week.The company will re-evaluate every one of its products' business models, despite the fact it may have a negative impact on the company's income, Li wrote. The Chinese internet stalwart has been fiercely criticized both online and by state media for how it handles adverts within its search results, especially in the sensitive healthcare sector."These days, whenever it's the dead of night, I think: Why do the people who use Baidu's products no longer love us?" Li wrote."The outrage is greater than in any crisis Baidu has experienced before." It is not the first time the company has fallen foul of regulators and public opinion for its handling of healthcare ads and blogs, and has previously changed elements of its business model in response."I believe this is the right way!" said Li in his letter. "It's the long-term way!" (Reporting by Paul Carsten and Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Will Waterman)

Older PostNewer Post
Germans split over joining combat missions against Islamic State: poll
Turkey seeks allies' support for ground operation as Syria war nears border
White House urges Congress to move on Zika funding