Company news from the 02/27/07 news brief

Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America and TAP Pharmaceutical Products announced an agreement to promote Sucampo Pharmaceuticals’ Amitiza (lubiprostone) approved for the treatment of chronic idiopathic constipation in adults in the US. Developed by Sucampo, Amitiza has been jointly promoted by Sucampo and Takeda since its approval by the FDA in January 2006. The agreement was signed and became effective on Jan. 31 with TAP detailing to begin March 2. The agreement is renewable by mutual agreement upon expiry of the initial term on March 31, 2009. Takeda will pay an undisclosed detailing fee to TAP. Other conditions of the agreement were not disclosed. TAP will now promote Amitiza to gastroenterologists and primary care physicians to whom they are currently promoting Prevacid (lansoprazole), and will replace the contract sales force currently used by Takeda. Takeda's sales force will continue to promote Amitiza to gastroenterologists and primary care physicians. Merck announced it will stop lobbying states to pass laws requiring that preteen girls be vaccinated against cervical cancer, following a growing backlash among parents, healthcare providers and consumer groups. Merck’s aggressive lobbying campaign was intended to bolster sales of its Gardasil vaccine approved last year. The vaccine provides protection against two strains of the human papillomavirus, the virus thought to cause a majority of cervical cancer cases. Merck’s lobbying efforts have become a distraction from the company’s goal of immunizing as many women as possible against cervical cancer said Richard Haupt, Merck’s executive director of medical affairs. Merck has “decided at this point not to lobby for school laws any further,” Haupt told The Wall Street Journal. A Philadelphia jury ruled that Wyeth’s hormone replacement therapy Prempro was the cause of a woman’s breast cancer and awarded her and her husband damages of $3 million. Wyeth said it plans to appeal the decision. Wyeth is facing approximately 5,000 lawsuits over its hormone replacement therapies. The drugs remain on the market despite a major government-sponsored study that found using them for five years or more can increase the risk of breast cancer.