Bayer boosts 4Q net, but projects bad '09; W.V. judge fines J&J $4.5M for mismarketing;

> Bayer sported a 58 percent increase in fourth-quarter profits, but the results were still lower than expected--and the company said it predicts earnings and sales to fall in the coming year. Report

> A West Virginia judge fined health care products maker Johnson & Johnson and a subsidiary nearly $4.5 million for sending misleading information to the state's physicians about two prescription drugs, officials said. Report

> Astellas Pharma shares suffered Tuesday after the drugmaker said it had terminated a licensing agreement with Swedish group Neurosearch on a drug to treat schizophrenia. Report

> FDA meets today with manufacturers of extended release opioid drugs to start developing new, stronger risk-management plans to help prevent misuse and abuse of the meds. Release

> Astellas Pharma's $1.1 billion hostile tender offer for CV Therapeutics steps up the battle over a long-struggling heart drug, Ranexa, that could emerge as an important treatment for angina. Report

> Abbott Laboratories has a projected $1.5 billion shortfall in its pension fund, which could force the company to make huge contributions to its retirement plans. Report

> In a clear effort to demonstrate to the investment world that Roche's $42 billion bid for the outstanding shares of Genentech is woefully inadequate, the giant biotech company today said it could win approvals on 15 new drugs between 2011 and 2015. And by 2015 Genentech says it could introduce 24 new uses of existing drugs in its portfolio. Report

> Shares of Epistem shot up this morning after the company announced that it had struck an R&D pact with Novartis. Epistem gets only $4 million upfront but also snared two years' worth of R&D support as well as up to $45 million in milestones for each new product that is developed in the pact. Report

> Palo Alto, CA-based StemCells has struck a deal to buy virtually all of the assets of London-based Stem Cell Sciences for 2.65 million shares of stock at $715,000 in cash. Report

> How does a pharma giant like Pfizer get entrepreneurial in the biotech field? For Corey Goodman, head of Pfizer's Biotherapeutics & Bioinnovations Center in San Francisco, the answer lies in small teams of scientists who stay with a program as it advances through clinical trials. And Pfizer has decided to take the same approach across its entire R&D arm. Report

> Valeant Pharmaceuticals has found a successful approach to new drug development. The developer cut its R&D budget in half and used the savings to go out and buy new drugs advanced by other biotech companies. Report

> Researchers are scrambling to get a better fix on a new variety of drug-resistant super flu. Healthcare workers in the U.S. and the Netherlands say the H1N1 'A' virus is loaded with a genetic variant that is resistant to Tamiflu, a first-line therapy used to protect the most vulnerable patients. And they are calling for new drugs and tests to combat the virus. Report

> A hormone therapy may offer a new approach to treating alcoholism. Researchers say that rats injected with cabergoline--sold under the brand name Dostinex--reduced their level of drinking. Reporting in Biological Psychiatry, the team also said that the drug did not produce any noticeable changes in other behavior. Report

And Finally... If every HIV-positive person went on antiretroviral therapy, the AIDS virus could be conquered, New Scientist says. Report