Roche is ready with supplies of Tamiflu for what will be one of the worst winter flu seasons on record, but how well will the controversial drug perform? In research reported by BMJ last year, Tamiflu, and GSK’s Relenza, were judged to be totally ineffective in curbing a flu pandemic. Signs are this year’s flu season will be severe as US deaths from influenza and pneumonia have already reached epidemic levels, according to the CDC, Bloomberg reports. While spot shortages of Tamiflu have been reported, Roche says it will have enough drug to cover the season.

Japan has granted Novartis its first approval for Cosentyx (secukinumab), a monoclonal antibody indicated for treating psoriasis vulgaris and psoriatic arthritis in adults. The drug is expected to earn FDA approval early this year, the Economic Times reports.

Flat funding in recent years for NIH, translating into reduced purchasing power accounting for inflation, is putting constraints on non-commercial research. As alternate funding sources from non-profits and the academic community can’t make up the difference, the basic research that leads to development of disease treatments has been in decline for sometime, according to an EvaluatePharma report. CMS data cited in the report show US health spending growing in all categories, except in the basic research segment, and the omnibus spending bill for 2015 will do little to further basic research: $30.1 billion slated for NIH in 2015 is but a slight uptick from 2014.

Amgen and Kite Pharma have announced an alliance in cancer immunotherapy. The companies will develop and commercialize the next generation of novel Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell immunotherapies, based on Kite’s autologous cell therapy (eACT) platform, and Amgen’s array of cancer targets. In the pact, Kite receives a $60 million upfront payment from Amgen with eligibility for up to $525 million in milestone payments. Amgen is eligible for up to $525 million in milestone payments.


Needy children in Florida stand to benefit from a federal judge’s ruling that the state violated US laws by setting its Medicaid budget at an artificially low level, causing pediatricians to opt out of the program, Modern Healthcare reports. State agencies named in the lawsuit have responded the ruling is not relevant to the state’s new Statewide Medicaid Managed Care program, in which enrollment has increased from 1.2 million in 2005 to 1.7 million in 2011.