Company news: Drugs.com, HIV Testing, Varicella

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Drugs.com's quarterly roundup of retail drug sales puts the latest patent cliff data into one snapshot. Among its summary are double-digit declines for second-quarter sales compared with those of 2011, including an 86% drop in sales of AstraZeneca's anti-psychotic Seroquel, a 42% fall-off in sales of Bristol Myers-Squibb's blood thinner Plavix and a 31% drop in sales of Pfizer's cholesterol-fighter Lipitor. Second quarter sales of Genentech's wet-AMD drug Lucentis slid almost 5% compared to the same period last year, and sales of Takeda's type-2 diabetes medication Actos fell almost 9% compared to the same period in 2011. However, not all drugs had a rough second quarter. Drugs.com notes that sales of Otsuka's anti-psychotic Abilify rose almost 3% for the quarter, compared to the second quarter of 2011, sales of Merck's asthma drug Singulair were up 4%, compared with last year and Abbott's drug Humira rose almost 9.5% compared to the same period last year.

The US Preventative Services Task Force is on the cusp of recommending that HIV testing become a routine screening, reported Reuters. The wire service noted that this is a shift from just seven years ago when this same task force wasn't swayed that widespread testing would help prevent new infections or change behaviors among infected patients. The position at the time was that doctors should determine if testing is warranted, as opposed to the purported new take, which is that testing is simply done. A task force member told Reuters that a lot has changed since then, including new evidence that shows that treating infected patients helps protect uninfected individuals. Testing has also undergone a major shift, which has come to include an at-home HIV testing kit the FDA approved in July.

Fewer American kids are going through the oven-mitt phase. The CDC noted last week that chickenpox infections have fallen 80% over the past 12 years, reported the New York Times. The Times said the fall had two steep drops: the first was from 2000 to 2005, when one dose of the varicella vaccine was the norm for children 12 to 18 months and for unvaccinated older children. The rate fell again when a second dose was recommended in 2006.

The British drug regulatory system is undergoing an overhaul. As reported by InPharm the regulatory agency, known as NICE, will now modify its drug decision appeals process to include input from members who are not part of the regulatory agency. InPharm reports that the change follows pressure from the British pharmaceutical industry group ABPI. A letter from the trade organization to the health secretary said stacking the appeals panel with NICE members increased the likelihood that initial decisions would not be challenged. InPharm said changes will be enacted through legislation in April.
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