Company news: AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Wiley-Blackwell, Santarus and inVentiv Health

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Full results of the SATURN study, released this week at AHA and published in NEJM, confirmed that AstraZeneca's Crestor performs about as well as Pfizer's Lipitor at reducing arterial plaque. CV event rates were nearly identical for the two drugs: 7.1% for Lipitor and 7.5% for Crestor. The data, coming ahead of Lipitor's patent expiry on Nov. 30, don't offer as strong a marketing boost as AZ had sought in funding the head-to-head trial. Seeing as Crestor did edge out Lipitor on some lipid measures, reps can still tout their drug as a niche product for high-risk patients unable to control lipids with other meds. But that will be a hard sell, with generic Lipitor becoming available and Pfizer redoubling efforts to preserve brand sales post-expiry through deals with payers and a co-pay card program. To keep prices competitive with its rival, AZ debuted its own Crestor co-pay card.

The American Heart Association (AHA) and publisher Wiley-Blackwell said they will launch a new open-access journal, Journal of the American Heart Association: Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Disease this fall. Dr. Joseph Vita, currently editor of the AHA's journal Circulation, has been named editor-in-chief of what will be AHA's only online open-access title, complementing its existing set of 11 print and online journals.

inVentiv Health said its Selling Solutions business will provide outsourced sales operations support to pharma company Santarus, as well as recruiting and sales force automation services for the Santarus' prescription diabetes products.

Clinical trial maven Kathleen Drennan launched TrialAdvance, Inc., a new company designed to build better clinical studies by training investigators. “The accepted practice of contracting more sites than needed—up to 50% more—in anticipation of non-performance is costing the industry millions of dollars annually,” noted Drennan. “This long-standing practice needs to be replaced with meaningful site engagement and development that includes training, support and accountability measures.”

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