Healthcare Biz Review: Novartis AG, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Forest Laboratories Attack Alzheimer’s

Merck (NYSE:MRK) announces that top-line results of a study on Vorapaxar show that the drug significantly reduced the risk of cardiovascular events. The company plans to release full results in March.

NeurogesX (NASDAQ:NGSX) dives following cautious reports related to Food and Drug Administration approval of its patch for HIV pain. The prescription-strength capsaicin patch didn’t meet its goals in studies for reducing pain caused by neuropathy linked to the virus, and Food Drug Administration report says.

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ViroPharma (NASDAQ:VPHM) dropped premarket after the Food and Drug Administration rejects its proposal to expand manufacturing of Cinryze. It is a treatment for angioedema, a type of swelling similar to hives. VPHM says the response letter made three comments related to a portion of the planned validation for industrial scale manufacturing, of which one requires additional action.

PhotoMedex (NASDAQ:PHMD) was issued a warning letter detailing quality system violations at manufacturing facilities by the Food and Drug Administration.

Pfizer’s (NYSE:PFE) breast cancer drug Aromasin worsened bone loss in a trial of at-risk post-menopausal women, raising the chance of fractures and calling into question whether the pill’s prevention benefits outweigh its risks. The result contradicts earlier studies that suggested the drug may help stimulate bone growth.

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Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), and Forest Laboratories Inc. (NYSE:FRX) are working on developing a market-changing home run treatment for Alzheimer’s care at a time when administration under President Obama plans to push for a $156 million increase in funding. Smaller-cap players such as Anavex Life Sciences Corp. (AVXL), Adeona Pharmaceuticals Inc. (AMEX:AEN) Nymex Pharmaceutical Corporation (NASDAQ:NYMX), Intellect Neurosciences (ILNS), and PRANA are also thoroughly invested in the research. Alzheimer care in the United States range as high as $20 trillion for the next 40 years with baby boomers being hit the hardest. So far drug firms have only been able to deliver stopgap measures in treatment.

Orthofix (NASDAQ:OFIX) has reached a series of agreements to remedy federal investigations into various criminal matters in three of its businesses. Allegations of bribery are just one charge it faces, as United States authorities step up enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Cadence Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:CADX) voluntarily recalls some of its Ofirmev pain reliever injection vials after an unidentified particle was found. During routine stability testing, one of the lot’s vials was found to contain the particle.

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