Biovail pays fine for kickbacks; Isentress gets EMEA approval; Thermo Fisher appoints new CEO;

> Biovail must pay $25 million in criminal and civil fines after the company pled guilty to charges that it paid doctors to prescribe it's blood pressure drug. Report

> Merck' gained EMEA approval to market HIV drug Isentress to adult patients who are starting treatment for the first time. Merck release

> With Dekker leaving the top spot at Thermo Fisher, the lab equipment maker has picked Marc Casper as the company's new president and CEO. Release

> Protein Sciences has batted away an involuntary bankruptcy case brought by Emergent BioSolutions, which had been left jilted after an attempted merger failed to materialize. Protein Sciences, which has a contract to supply flu vaccines to the government, says a judge found that bankruptcy was not in the best interests of the company or its creditors. Report

Biotech News

> One of Novartis' would-be blockbusters generated promising late-stage data as a therapy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Compared with a standard treatment option for COPD, QAB149 demonstrated improved lung function at 12 weeks and 26 weeks into treatment. Report

> San Carlos, CA-based Alvine Pharmaceuticals raised $21.5 million in an extension of its Series A, garnering fresh funds to advance the development of a new treatment for celiac disease. Story

> BioCryst Pharmaceuticals came out of the gate this morning touting new distribution deals for its closely-watched antiviral peramivir, but some analysts were doubtful that the developer had much new to offer investors. Report

> Pieris AG claimed validation for its work on a new drug class along with $10 million in an upfront fee from Allergan as it forged a collaboration pact covering new therapies for ocular diseases. Report

> In an ambitious bid to improve on Europe's position as a leader in the field of drug development, the European Commission and members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations announced plans to inject $228 million into drug discovery efforts. Article

Research News

> When mass public vaccination campaigns get started around the globe in the next few weeks, pregnant women will be given a preferential spot at the head of the line. And now researchers say that they have gained some insight into just why they're so vulnerable to swine flu. Report

> Researchers have ID'd a master gene that turns blood stem cells into Natural Killer--or NK--immune cells. And their work points the way to new cancer therapies as well as a better understanding of the part these unique immune cells play in provoking multiple sclerosis, diabetes and other autoimmune ailments. Article

> The generic diabetes drug metformin has proved to be a potent cancer weapon when combined with the standard chemotherapy doxorubicin, say researchers at Harvard Medical School. Report

> San Diego-based NexBio has been highlighting promising animal and lab experiments that support a new approach to fighting the flu. Story

> A start-up called LucCell is beginning clinical development work on molecular light switches, a genetic technology that promises to help the paralyzed breathe and gain bladder control. Report

And Finally... The fear of swine flu is luring wealthy business travelers away from the major airlines to chartered flight operators. Report