Business briefs: Novartis, Regeneron and Pfizer

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Novartis Chair Joerg Reinhardt has outlined his core goal for the job, weeks into his new role: to scuttle  businesses  where  Novartis  does  not  lead,  and  to  focus  on  those  where  it  does,  and  can  be  among  the  top  companies,  reports  Bloomberg,  which  interviewed  the  company's  new  executive.  Reinhardt  told  Bloomberg  that  he's  is  open  to  acquisitions,  in  the  outer  range  of  $10  billion,  but  that  the  company  has  stopped  pursuing  Onyx,  which  is  being  courted  by  AstraZeneca,  Pfizer  and  Amgen. The  focus  on  being  a  category  leader  means  the  OTC  business  may  not  make  the  cut: “Novartis  is  not  among  the  top  players  and  it  will  be  necessary  to  strengthen  that  business...if  we  decide  to  stay  in  it,”  Reinhardt  said, as reported by Bloomberg,  which  also  notes  the  company's  vaccine  business  has  been  lackluster.  Wednesday's  news  narrative  also  included  reports  that  the  Swiss  company  is  being  scrutinized  for  alleged  misconduct  in  China.  Pharmalot  reports  that  a  former  sales  reps  claims  Novartis  bribed  doctors  and  hospitals.  Novartis  says  it  is  looking  into  the  matter  and  Pharmalot  notes  that  the  country's  industry  investigation  may  be  a  way  for  the  government  to  boost  its  local  industry  or  “use  this  as  leverage  to  extract  lower  prices  from  global  drugmakers.”

Eylea  sales  are  pushing  Regeneron  to  expand.  The  Times  Union  reports  that  the  maker  of  the  Wet  AMD  and  macular  edema  drug  is  now  in  expanding  its  manufacturing  plant  in  East  Greenbush,  NY.  The Times  Union  notes  that  the  manufacturing  expansion  follows  an  early  growth  spurt  in  which  the  company  added  office  space.

Pfizer  and  Sanford-Burnham  Medical  Research  Institute  have  teamed  up  in  an  obesity  and  diabetes  effort.  BioCentury  reports  that  Sanford-Burnham  will  look  for  new  drug  targets  to  prevent  and  treat  insulin  resistance  in  these  two  conditions,  and  look  for  matches  between  targets  and  drugs  in  the  NIH  chemical  library  and  among  Pfizer's  investigational  compounds.

The FDA approved  an  MS  clinical  trial  using  stem  cells,  the  Tisch  MS  Research  Center  announced  Wednesday.  The  study  will  harvest  stem  cells  from  the  patient's  bone  marrow  and  inject  them  into  the  patient's  spinal  fluid.  Tisch  says  20  patients  will  make  up  the  trial,  which  will  include  three  rounds  of  injections  at  three-month  intervals.

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