Company news: Vivus, Celgene, Pew

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Weight-loss drug Qsymia has been linked to the easing of obstructive sleep apnea, according to a study funded by manufacturer Vivus and published in the journal Sleep. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is one of two types of the condition in which the airway is blocked. Excess weight is an OSA risk factor. The other, Central Sleep Apnea, is less common and is caused by an interruption in brain-respiratory system signals. Vivus Chief Commercial Officer Michael Miller told MM&M that the company is talking with the FDA about how to design a clinical trial, but wasn't able to comment on how and if this would be a way to break into Europe, where regulators have given a thumbs-down to the slimming agent that combines phentermine and topiramate.

Celgene's experimental pancreatic cancer drug Abraxane has hit its Phase III goals, and will present the full results in January at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, reported PharmaTimes. The study paired Celgene's drug with gemcitabine in advanced pancreatic cancer patients. Jefferies analyst Thomas Wei said in his Friday research note that the information was enough for cautious optimism, and estimated sales could be between $1.2 billion to $1.9 billion, assuming it has data to show clinically meaningful overall survival. Wei wrote this data is historically difficult to track in pancreatic cancer patients.

Mobile health is becoming a bigger deal among cell phone users. Pew found that 31% of cell users – this is both smartphones and cellphones – have used their phones to seek out health information, a big increase from just 17% two years ago. Despite the jump, Pew found that texting, which about 80% of the polled users said they send and receive, is the tool they use least for getting health information, and that smartphone users dominate in looking up information, with 52% of smartphone users seeking health information, compared to 6% of cellphone users. Pew also reported that although 20% of smartphone users have downloaded a health app, they tend to be related among a narrow group of topics, with exercise/fitness/health monitoring apps accounting for 38% of those downloaded, and diet/food/calories accounting for 31% of the downloaded apps.
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