Business briefs: Biogen, Celgene, J&J, plus Obamacare TV push

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Biogen Idec and Isis agreed to deepen their R&D relationship. Bloomberg reports that the team which brought Tecfidera to market will develop drugs for neurological disorders. This category includes conditions like ALS. Isis has pocketed an immediate $100-million payment, and Bloomberg reports that the company can earn as much as $220 million per compound.

The US Department of Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Disease control, are making a multi-million-dollar TV push to promote healthcare reform. Politico reports that the federal agencies have set aside $12 million for airtime ads promoting insurance exchanges in Republican states including Texas, Florida. Arizona, Georgia, Ohio and Oklahoma, among others. The ads are slated to run starting September 30, one day before health exchanges start accepting members.

Christopher Smith, formerly of the National Community Pharmacists Association, is now federal policy director for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. Drug Store News reports that Smith's role is a new one for the organization and that Smith will provide policy guidance.

Medivir is walking away from its experimental hepatitis B compound MIV-210. The company said in a statement on Friday that although the drug has had an anti-viral impact, it is not as effective as class peers which can eradicate the virus. South Korea's Daewoong Pharmaceutical Co had been handling R&D.

The FDA approved Celgene's Abraxane for advanced pancreatic cancer Friday, reports the New York Times. NYT reported that the drug provided a significant survival benefit, with patients gaining a mean of around 8.5 months, compared to 6.7 months for patients who did not receive the drug along with gemcitabine. The paper went on to note that, although folfirinox is already on the market and extends life longer than Celgene's new drug, Abraxane could win out because it is easier to administer and tolerate. The company expects the drug to cost between $6,000 and $8,000 a month.

Johnson & Johnson is looking to offload its Ortho Clinical Diagnostics business. Reuters reports that the company asked JPMorgan Chase to handle the sale of the business that is known for blood screening equipment and laboratory blood tests. Reuters says analysts put the potential sale price at around $5 billion.

The race for an Enbrel biosimilar now includes Baxter. PMLive reports that the company has teamed up with Coherus to develop a lookalike to Amgen's monoclonal anti-body in exchange for $30 million up front and up to $216 million in milestone payments. The announcement trails that of Sandoz, which announced in June that it, too, was developing an alternative version of the blockbuster.
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