GSK taps Pfizer exec as CMO; Merck KGaA asks to expand Erbitux use;

> GlaxoSmithKline appointed Dr. Ellen Strahlman as its Chief Medical Officer; Strahlman previously was Pfizer's vice president for licensing and worldwide business development. GSK release

> GSK is teaming up with Cellzome, which is developing kinase-targeted drugs, in a deal that could be worth up to $1.5 billion. The pact will target inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis. GSK report

> Merck KGaA asked European regulators to expand the use of its Erbitux cancer drug to include first-line treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. Release

> APP Pharmaceuticals has purchased Astellas Manufacturing's neighboring plant in Buffalo and will combine them with its existing facility into what company executives are calling its "flagship plant." Report

> Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott reached a $28 million civil settlement with Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories in a Medicaid pricing dispute. Report

> Questcor Pharmaceuticals said Thursday Gary Sawka will become senior vice president and chief financial officer, replacing George Stuart, who is stepping down for family reasons. Questcor release

> Biophysics company Avacta has developed a test to detect contamination in drug development processes and production, hoping to extend its reach into the pharma sector. Report

> Researchers at Canada's McGill University studied patent systems from around the world and have found that, regardless of the country, the world's patent system is in serious trouble. Report

> Alpharma's abuse-resistant pain drug effectively prevented pain in osteoarthritis patients with moderate to severe pain. Report

> Scientists at Oxford University are testing a new universal flu vaccine that targets the internal proteins of the virus, which change very little from one strain to the next. Vaccine report

> There's been quite an uproar this year over the supposed safety risks presented by vaccines. But the CDC--which has raised its own concerns on the subject--says that the vast majority of parents are still doing the right thing and getting the whole list of vaccinations recommended for their children. Report

And Finally... Diabetics who tightly control their blood sugar--even if only for the first decade after they are diagnosed--have lower risks of deadly complications 10 or more years later. Report