Consumers spend less on drugs; Pharma keeps building;

> Consumers are spending less on prescription drugs in U.S. pharmacies in a rapidly declining economy, indicating that the industry is less resistant to financially trying times than previously believed. Report

> More layoffs are in store for workers at GlaxoSmithKline, which will close its Crawley site before 2011 ends, cutting about 493 more jobs than it announced previously, bring the total number of layoffs to more than 650. Report

> In the United States in the first half of 2008 alone, the pharmaceutical and biotech industries have built 31 new plants and research centers, in projects ranging from $3.5 million to $60 million--and another 52 facilities are expected before yearend. Report

> Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler testified in front of the Senate Finance Committee yesterday and made some suggestions about intellectual property rights, including a new anti-counterfeiting trade agreement. Report

> Merck fired Lowenstein Sandler, its high-flying law firm, to prevent recusal of a state Supreme Court judge in its $13.5 million Vioxx appeal. Report

> Mid-stage data from an experimental COPD therapy under development by GlaxoSmithKline researchers came in positive, and that will be worth a $10 million milestone payment for Theravance. Report

> Bellevue, WA-based Light Sciences Oncology has garnered $40.1 million in new venture funds to advance its work on light infusion therapies. Report

> Shares of Introgen Therapeutics tumbled 20 percent yesterday after TheStreet's Adam Feuerstein questioned whether its late-stage therapy Advexin was as effective as the company has billed it. Report

> A senior NIH researcher is at the center of a fresh round of charges regarding a potential conflict of interest between his financial interests and his research work. Report

> Officials in Minnesota are touting the potential of the planned $300 million Minnesota Biomedical Research Program, a project that already has earned legislative approval for $220 million in state funds. Minnesota report

> A Harvard research team has developed a new procedure that gave them ready access to a supply of adult muscle stem cells in mice, which they used to counter the effects of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in test animals. Stem cell report

> A research team at the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology, VIB, and University of Leuven have found that a fault in the neuregulin protein plays a key role in the development of schizophrenia--an insight likely to spur new development programs for the disease. Report

And Finally... Billionaire computer scientist David E. Shaw is leading a project to develop a powerful new supercomputer that could undertake work on protein folding and other advanced biomedical simulation projects. Report