Judge tosses Sanofi-Aventis whistleblower suit; King extends Alpharma bid

> A Chicago federal court dismissed a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former Aventis sales rep, who charged the drugmaker with off-label promotion of its Lovenox blood thinner and claimed that, in doing so, it induced doctors and hospitals to submit fraudulent Medicare claims. Report

> King Pharmaceuticals extended its $37-per-share buyout offer for Alpharma to Dec. 29, saying about 92 percent of the company's outstanding shares have been tendered. Release l Report

> New patient therapy starts in the cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure markets will grow less than 5 percent respectively in 2009, according to market researchers SDI. Report

> Vietnam's health ministry will investigate allegations that Merck and GlaxoSmithKline ran inappropriate lobbying campaigns before their human papillomavirus vaccines were approved for use. Report

> Dermatology firm York Pharma is to hook up with Sinclair Pharma in the U.K. to co-promote selected products to dermatologists and selected general practitioners. Report

> Pfizer said it hired Bradley Lerman, previously litigation partner at Chicago's Winston & Strawn, as senior vice president of litigation. Report

> NovaDel Pharma's Zolpimist (zolpidem tartrate) oral spray has been approved by the FDA for short-term treatment of insomnia. Report

> In response to the deepening health crisis in Zimbabwe, GlaxoSmithKline has allocated $2.2 million worth of specifically requested antibiotics to Direct Relief International's efforts in the country. Report

> A California jury on Monday ordered Pfizer to pay $38 million to a medical research firm for stealing trade secrets to develop a pain relief drug that eventually was taken off the market. Report

> The FDA warned consumers to avoid more than two dozen products marketed online for weight loss because they contain undeclared ingredients that could pose serious health risks. Report

> The FDA will approve at least 21 new drugs this year, says the AP, an uptick from last year when only 18 first-of-a-kind therapies gained a green light from the agency. But industry observers note that despite the jump, the FDA missed its review deadlines 15 times over the course of the year. Report

> Amgen filed for marketing approval of its lead experimental drug on Friday. The biotech giant is looking for agency approval to market denosumab to treat and prevent postmenopausal osteoporosis in women, and bone loss in patients undergoing hormone therapy to treat either prostate or breast cancer. Report

> Progen had plenty of money but no strong clinical programs. Avexa had promising pipeline but no money. So the companies are merging to form a single well-funded drug development company--Avexa Pharmaceuticals Limited. Report

> Avigen has outlined the prospects of a sale of all or some of its assets following a series of moves it made after announcing that AV650 failed a Phase IIb trial in October. Report

> Forest Laboratories has inked a deal to buy the North American rights to Pierre Fabre Medicament's experimental anti-depressant F2695 for $75 million. Report

> Over at Xconomy, Targeted Genetics founder and former CEO H. Stewart Parker offers up some advice to ensure a better future for biotech. If the sector is to survive the inevitable healthcare reform, the industry needs to ramp up its efforts to demonstrate its value, says Parker. Report

And Finally... Those pain pills you think help your migraines? Take too many and you could make them worse. Report