Monday, April 19, 2010

While You Were Stranded

Volcano 1 -- IN VIVO blogger, 0.

Yours truly was supposed to fly to the US on Saturday for a few days of work at EBI HQ Monday-Wednesday. (OK, there were tickets to Sunday's Phillies and Flyers games involved too.)

We've heard from industry friends stranded in Vienna after EASL (looking for your liver doc? He/She's probably still listening to Mozart, drinking strong coffee and eating tiny cakes right about now). There are more serious issues, to be sure. Students stranded. Unattended state funerals. Canceled meetings and conferences. Jobs and families to return to.

The news is full of the result of the ash-cloud disruption. On Sunday the airline industry -- reportedly losing $200 million per day -- started to grumble that imposed flight restrictions were over-zealous or just plain unnecessary. How big is the impact? Well, as of this writing the popularity of the underappreciated 1990 film "Joe vs the Volcano" (as measured by IMDb) is up 70% this week.

Today, we are all Joe. Or perhaps we're all another Tom Hanks character, Viktor Navorski, the unlucky man-without-a-state who gets stuck for ages in an airport Terminal.
Stuck somewhere awful? Somewhere not-so-awful? How did the volcanic ash affect your business plans? (A question we never anticipated asking if there ever was one.) Let us know in the comments.

Meanwhile, while you were living out of a suitcase ...
  • Avandia: The WSJ reported on Sunday that FDA is considering putting the brakes on GSK's Avandia v Actos (from Takeda) safety study. Quoth the Journal: "Dr. Hamburg's principal deputy, Joshua Sharfstein, said the decision on the trial "cannot be de-linked from the agency's view of Avandia," suggesting that if the trial must be halted, the agency would also consider asking Glaxo to halt sales of the drug."
  • Sandoz: Novartis' generic drug unit is acquiring Oriel Therapeutics, a respiratory-focused biotech backed by New Leaf Venture Partners, Thomas, McNerney & Partners, HealthCare Ventures and CHL Medical Partners. Terms weren't disclosed.
  • Elan: the Irish biopharma is exploring a spin-off of its Elan Drug Technologies business, a move that would create two publicly listed companies. Getting deja vu? The company reportedly tried to sell EDT back in 2008.
  • H Lundbeck: The H is for 'how do you like them apples?' The Danish CNS company wins a round in court and generic versions of escitalopram will be pulled from its home market.
  • AACR: At the conference in Washington, Amgen presented the results of a biomarker analysis of the Phase III pivotal trial for Vectibix. The company explored whether nine particular genetic mutations affected response to the drug. Patients with wild-type KRAS and NRAS genes had significantly improved progression-free survival compared to patients with mutant versions of those genes.
  • M&A: Astellas says it isn't going to raise its bid for OSI Pharmaceuticals based on expanded approval for Tarceva, though due diligence is ongoing.
  • NHL Playoffs. The game we missed turned out to be a solid effort from the Flyers, who might have won 8-2 were it not for the acrobatics of the NHL's finest-ever goalie, Martin Brodeur. Philly up 2-1 in the series.

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