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Novartis hires Merck president to lead oncology

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Bruno Strigini

Novartis has hired Merck’s president of Europe and Canada Bruno Strigini to be its president of oncology. 

The role was being fulfilled on an interim basis by Alessandro Riva who runs the unit’s development and medical affairs – since the firm said at the beginning of the year that Hervé Hoppenot had resigned. 

Strigini’s arrival seems timely given Novartis’ recent acquisition of GSK’s oncology franchise for $14.5 billion via a new joint venture – that sees the two firms swapping assets and merging business units.

Endocyte lung cancer drug shows promise

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Endocyte and partner MSD have released positive mid-stage trial results for their investigational lung cancer drug vintafolide.

The treatment met its primary endpoint in the Phase 2b TARGET study, which showed that vintafolide in combination what chemotherapy agent docetaxel reduced the risk of the disease worsening, or death by 25% compared with using docetaxel alone.

The firms say that more detailed trial results, including data regarding overall survival (OS), will be presented at an upcoming medical conference. 

Mike Nally replaces Deepak Khanna as MSD head

Published on: 11/12/13

Merck Sharp & Dohme has confirmed that Mike Nally will succeed Deepak Khanna as managing director for MSD in the UK and Ireland from January.

Khanna who is also stepping down from another role next year at the ABPI, will now be appointed as a senior VP and regional president of its European Oncology unit from January.

Pfizer head to be ABPI president

Jonathan Emms
Jonathan Emms

The UK managing director of Pfizer Jonathan Emms is to replace Deepak Khanna as the ABPI president from April next year.

Like the ABPI, Emms has been highly critical of the government’s upcoming drug pricing scheme, and often highlights the increasing - but disputed - costs of drug development.

Merck to close Irish plant with loss of 570 jobs

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MSD Plant in Swords, Dublin

Merck & Co has said it plans to close down a facility in Ireland with the loss of around 570 jobs unless it can find a buyer.

The future of the plant at Swords has been in question for some time, but Merck - known as MSD outside the US - confirmed plans to close it down by the end of 2017 with 130 jobs due to go before the end of 2014.

"The company plans to work with IDA Ireland to aggressively pursue a buyer for the facility in order to potentially mitigate job losses," said the company in a statement.

MSD cleared by PMCPA

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Merck Sharp Dohme has been found not guilty of breaching two clauses in the ABPI Code of Practice - including the most serious one, which involves bringing pharma itself into disrepute.

An anonymous complainant had said that the company’s retrospective rebate scheme to hospitals and clinics for its oral contraceptive Cerazette amounted to an inducement to prescribe - thus breaching clause 18.1 of the Code, which deals with gifts or benefits given to doctors.

MSD takes Januvia rap

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Merck Sharp & Dohme has been censured by the PMCPA for failing to uphold standards in the way it promoted its type 2 diabetes drug Januvia (sitagliptin).

The manufacturer made multiple infringements of the ABPI Code of Practice by comparing it to Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly’s own diabetes brand Trajenta (linagliptin).

Comparisons are allowed - but the PMCPA panel upheld Boehringer and Lilly’s complaint that the way MSD did it in a leave piece would give people the impression that Januvia was more effective than it is.

Aspen buys Merck facility and products in $1 billion deal

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Africa's largest drugmaker Aspen Pharmacare has agreed to buy a manufacturing facility owned by Merck & Co, plus a portfolio of pharmaceutical products, in a deal valued at around $1 billion.

The deal is the latest in a series of transactions at Aspen as it tries to elevate itself from a regional to a global player in the pharma market, and had been announced in principle earlier this year.

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