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Japanese drugmaker Astellas Pharma said it will set up a new company in Illinois in April to oversee the clinical development activities of its group as a whole. The transfer of Astellas' clinical development base, currently located in Japan, is aimed at speeding up decision-making and boosting market competitiveness, the company said. The new firm will be named Astellas Pharma Global Development Inc. Recently, a growing number of Japanese drugmakers have transferred their research and development bases to locations outside Japan, reflecting a slowdown in the domestic market and increased dependence on overseas sales.

Merck said that 44,000 of the roughly 47,000 people who registered for shares of a $4.85 billion settlement over the withdrawn painkiller Vioxx settlement have submitted all or some of the paperwork necessary for enrollment in the deal. Those who enrolled in the settlement by this past Friday could be eligible to receive an interim payment later this year.

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