Baring to invest $150M in pharma firms; Abbott commits $1M to Haiti relief;

> Baring Private Equity Partners is in talks with a few mid-sized pharma companies to invest up to $150 million in the next few months, the Economic Times reports. Report

> Abbott and its philanthropic foundation have committed to provide $1 million in initial humanitarian aid in response to the earthquake in Haiti. Report

> Amgen said 2009 earnings would come in close to the low end of its forecast, sending its shares down almost 2 percent. Report

> Watson Pharmaceuticals said its 2009 profit and revenue could top its previous predictions thanks to sales of both branded and generic drugs. Report

> Investors snapped up shares of Merck Wednesday after a Credit Suisse analyst said the stock could rise as Wall Street takes a closer look at the drugmaker's pipeline. Report

> Credit Suisse upgraded shares of AstraZeneca to neutral from underperform, citing valuation. Report

> Sanofi-Aventis appointed Han Regenauer as vice president, consumer healthcare, Europe and global development. Report

> Moody's Investors Service upgraded generic-drug giant Teva Pharmaceuticals, making it the first generics maker with an A-range rating. Report

Biotech News

> Shares of Enzon Pharmaceuticals (ENZN) shot up on the news that Pfizer may be interested in inking a deal with the company. Last year, Enzon sold a manufacturing plant and four marketed products for $300 million in cash to Italy's sigma-tau Group. Report

> Amgen's longsearch for a way to strengthen weak bones has led scientists to denosumab, a product  that may stop tumors from spreading beyond soft tissue. And analysts are speculating that this discovery may help revive the company's fortunes, according to Bloomberg. Story

> BIND Biosciences, a 2008 Fierce 15 winner, announced today that it has raised $11 million in Series C financing. The company also said that it's hired Scott Minick, a former managing director of ARCH Venture Partners (one of BIND's investors) as president and CEO. Report

> An FDA panel has unanimously backed the approval of Carbaglu, Recordati's treatment for patients with a rare and fatal disease called NAGS deficiency. The vote of confidence comes despite earlier concerns that the study design could have interfered with the company's findings. Story

> Germany's Affimed Therapeutics has spun out its antibody discovery activities to form a new company. AbCheck, to be based in the Czech Republic, will continue Affimed's current discovery work and will also offer antibody discovery and engineering expertise to biotech and pharma companies. AbCheck will create customized antibodies for therapeutic applications. Story

> Randy Schatzman, the CEO of Alder Biopharmaceuticals, sometimes wonders just how many biotech companies didn't get started over the past two years. With the financial crisis pushing a slew of venture outfits into survival mode, he thinks it's a sure bet that there's a 'donut hole' effect at work now, with fewer bright biotech entrepreneurs out there coming up with the kind of development programs Big Pharma is hungry for. Report

> Medicure says several partners have expressed interest in its heart drug Aggrastat. The company has brought in Canadian life science investment firm Bloom Burton & Co to help arrange the potential partnership, license, or sale of the drug. Report

Vaccines News

> Pfizer has high hopes for Prevnar-13, the vaccine it acquired in its buyout of Wyeth. An FDA panel has already voted in favor of the updated vaccine, and the company is awaiting final approval of the shot for infants and children. Report

> With the latest swine flu outbreak winding down in the U.S., health officials are sounding an alarm that anyone who hasn't been vaccinated needs to get a shot now. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius warns that a second big wave of swine flu could yet sweep the country this winter. And after getting beat up by lawmakers left unhappy last fall when initial vaccine shipments fell far short of projections, Sebelius is leaving no doubt that anyone who wants a jab now can get one. Story

> San Diego-based Vical says that Sanofi subsidiary Merial Limited has won approval from the Department of Agriculture for a dog melanoma vaccine that Merial in-licensed from the developer. And Vical says the regulatory approval marks a step forward in its quest to gain an approval to use a therapeutic cancer vaccine on dogs' best friends: people. Report

> California-based SciClone Pharmaceuticals' shares shot up as much as 14 percent earlier this week after preliminary study data showed the adjuvant Zadaxin increased immune response when used in combination with Novartis' H1N1 vaccine Focetria. Story

And finally... President Barack Obama will urge rank-and-file House Democrats today to end their differences with the Senate and close ranks to reach an historic deal over healthcare legislation, an administration official says. Report