Business Briefs: Kantar Media, Janssen, Eli Lilly, Boehringer Ingelheim, Sanofi, Aveo

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Healthcare reform may be considered a done deal, but an ad-spend tally by Kantar Media and reported on by the New York Times shows the marketing tussle isn't over. Anti-reformists spent around $400 million criticizing the act since the 2010 ratification, and supporters have spent around $75 million on ads talking up the act's benefits. Data also shows that current spending is clearly aligned with the next election, noting that the Kentucky Opportunity Group ran an ad last month hailing Sen. Mitch McConnell's anti-reform vote. He is up for election next year. Kantar found that HHS spent around $46 million on ads that mention healthcare reform since 2010, and quoted a researcher as saying to expect more pro-reform chatter as Dems up their election presence.

Janssen's plunge into the human microbiome now includes an investment in the San Bruno firm Second Genome. The agreement includes an upfront payment from the J&J subsidiary and additional potential payments based on research milestones. Second Genome's focus is on the more than 100 trillion micro-organisms that have gotten particular attention for their possible links to several conditions, such as ulcerative colitis, which the J&J research agreement will include. Forbes notes that Janssen's move is part of a larger biotechnology push that includes the company's new innovation center in Menlo Park, Calif. Adventures in the microbiome were partially addressed in a 2012 New Yorker article, which noted that the constellation of germs has also been linked to conditions such as insulin resistance and obesity, and provides some protective health measures, such as the seemingly protective benefit of the H.Pylori bacteria which is often associated with ulcers but is also linked to lower asthma rates.

The UK has inducted its first adult-ADHD indicated medication, reports PMLive – Eli Lilly's Strattera. The condition has been criticized as a ploy to increase market share. Salon noted in an October 2012 article that pharma has put some money behind spreading the word about adult ADHD through groups such as Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, to which industry members gave $1.2 million in 2007 and again in 2008. Ad support for the adult indication has included Shire's "Own It" campaign, which has featured celebrities like Maroon5's Adam Levine and the Boston Red Sox's Shane Victorino.

Boehringer Ingelheim announced Monday that its experimental NSCLC drug, nintedanib, improved progression-free survival when paired with docetaxel, as opposed to docetaxel alone. The Phase III findings were discussed at the ASCO 2013 conference and assessed 1,314 patients whose disease progressed after receiving first-line chemotherapy. The company is also looking into applications including ovarian cancer, liver cancer, kidney cancer and colorectal cancer.

Sanofi has pulled two drugs from its pipeline: Phase II NSCLC drug iniparib and Phase III anticoagulant otamixaban. The company announced the withdrawals Monday. Iniparib was deemed a failure for not improving overall survival compared to chemotherapy-only patients. The drug maker said in a statement that otamixaban failed to show it was superior to current treatments. Bloomberg notes iniparib was a keystone therapy around which Sanofi arranged its reorganized oncology division in 2008, and that CEO Chris Viebacher had said drug was intended to be a key part of the company's transformation. Bloomberg also notes that Monday's news is a second strike against the drug, which failed to hits its breast cancer goals in 2011, and that Sanofi, while taking a $285-million charge over the recent failure, may not have shelved the compound for good. “There may be an active drug in there somewhere, but at the moment there is no clear path for development,” Viebacher told the news service.

Cambridge-based biotech Aveo Oncology announced it's eliminating 62% of the workforce today, approximately 140 positions. The firm also said it will end R&D on tivozanib for renal cell carcinoma and will refocus the drug's development toward indications in colorectal and breast cancer. Aveo's chief medical officer, William Slichenmyer, MD, said in a release that, as a result of an oncology drugs advisory committee meeting, "we believe that it is likely that tivozanib will not receive FDA approval for renal cell carcinoma or RCC.” Slichenmyer also noted that partner Astellas decided not to submit tivozanib for a European filing or financially support the drug in future clinical trials. Aveo said it expects that its current cash and marketable securities are sufficient to fund operations for at least two years after the restructuring.

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