Amgen shares drop on anemia-drug review; Teva pulls out of Singulair patent challenge;

> Amgen shares dropped Thursday over concerns that the FDA's plan to re-examine the safety of anemia drugs could pressure sales of leading anemia treatments Aranesp and Epogen. Report

> Merck says Teva Pharmaceutical Industries has withdrawn its appeals court challenge to the patent on the allergy treatment Singulair. Report

> Metformin is safe for use in treating patients who have both diabetes and advanced heart failure, a new study shows. Report

> Boston Scientific's Taxus Liberté stent shouldn't be used in routine clinical practice because it's inferior in terms of safety and efficacy to Abbott Laboratories' Xience V product, researchers have found. Report

> A noted investor has upped his holdings in Novartis AG on an expected benefit to the company from increased demand for generics. Report

> Watson Laboratories has filed an abbreviated new drug application with the FDA seeking approval to market its levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol (0.10 mg/0.02 mg) oral contraceptive product prior to the expiration of U.S. Patent No. 7,615,545, which is owned by Duramed Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Release

Biotech News

> Cambridge, MA-based Molecular Insight Pharmaceuticals announced today that it is cutting nine positions as it seeks to reduce operating costs. The company will take a one-time charge of $200,000 in the first quarter, but expects to save about $1 million annually as a result of the cuts. Story

> Research Triangle Park, NC-based PhaseBio Pharmaceuticals has raised $25 million in a Series B financing round. New investors New Enterprise Associates and OSI Investment Management, a subsidiary of OSI Pharmaceuticals, led the round. Report

> Clavis Pharma announced today that the FDA has granted its intravenous pancreatic cancer treatment CP-4126 orphan drug designation. Clavis signed a $380 million development and commercialization deal with cancer-drug powerhouse Clovis Oncology in November. As part of the deal, Clavis handed off all development of the Phase II CP-4126 to Clovis. The FDA designation follows a similar move by European regulators in October of last year. Story

> A fresh set of promising Phase IIa data for its lead therapy helped Irving, TX-based Reata Pharmaceuticals score a $272 million licensing pact with Kyowa Hakko Kirin covering Japan and a slate of key Pacific Rim countries. The collaboration on bardoxolone calls for $35 million of that to arrive as an upfront payment with $97 million in development milestones, $140 million in sales milestones and escalating double-digit royalties. Report

And finally ... Are Big Pharma mergers good for new drugs? Report