Company news: AstraZeneca, Alcon, Novo Nordisk

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AstraZeneca is piling on more layoffs, with 625 new firings in Germany, reported Pharmalot. The new layoffs are expected to hit sales force and commercial teams, and come in addition to the 7,300 job cuts that were announced earlier this year.

Stryker Instruments is investing $40 million in R&D at its Carrigtohill plant in Cork, Ireland, reported the Irish Times. The site works on next-generation surgical devices, and the new money will come with 20 new R&D positions.

Research group Visiongain predicts the market for pharmaceutical contract sales will be worth $4 billion next year and will grow 8% between now and 2017. Outsource sales teams are expected to drive this growth. The company also projected that growth of person-free selling will expand at an even faster rate, with e-detailing accounting for around $200 million in contract sales organization revenues in 2023.

The Office of Prescription Drug Promotion sent an untitled letter to Alcon over a professional sales aid touting its Patanase nasal spray. Its central complaint was that the aid oversold the drug's impact, using, for example check boxes for congestion, sneezing, runny nose, itchy nose, that were accompanied by essentially a “before” picture of a mother and daughter with corks up their noses and then an “after” picture of them without. OPDP said the piece implies effectiveness against symptoms not backed by substantial clinical experience. OPDP also took issue with a graph that shows Patanase relief stretching beyond a 14-day period when the cited studies don't address that timeframe.

Novo Nordisk is determined to show diabetics can flex their muscles. The company announced Tuesday that it was creating an all-diabetic sports team of 100 cyclists, triathletes and runners. The cycling team is the former Type-1 Sanofi team, with one major modification: Sanofi's crew included riders who were not diabetics, but Novo's is going to be all diabetics, for all races, reported Cycling News. “At team Novo Nordisk we want to show the world what is possible with great diabetes control,” team founder Phil Southerland said in a statement. Southerland founded the now-Novo team in 2005; last year's team of 23 riders included just six diabetics. Novo said in a statement that the 17-person cycling team will ride in races such as the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, with the Tour de France being the ultimate goal. “This partnership provides a tremendous opportunity to raise awareness, and educate, empower and inspire people with diabetes,” Novo's SVP of global marketing and global medical affairs said in a statement.
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