Look for Novartis-Alcon deal in early 2010; Sealed Prempro verdict levies $8M in damages;

> Early 2010 should see the final consummation of the Novartis' deal to buy Alcon, the eye-care company, the Wall Street Journal says. Report

> Indian drugmaker Lupin said it has reached an out-of-court settlement with Forest Laboratories and can launch its generic version of the U.S. company's Namenda tablets by January 2015. Report

> A sealed Prempro jury verdict in Philadelphia is said to have awarded $8 million in punitive damages to plaintiffs, Bloomberg reports. Report

> At least 111 million doses of vaccine against pandemic H1N1 influenza are now available and least 60 million people have already been immunized, CDC says. Report

> Sinovac Biotech was selected by China Business Media as one of China's Top 10 most competitive companies listed overseas for 2009. Report

Biotech News

> Not to be left out of the late-year deal frenzy, AstraZeneca revealed this morning that it will pay at least $350 million--and as much as $505 million--for Novexel, a French biotech company with a pipeline of therapies designed to target infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria in the hospital. Story

> Shares of Compugen spiked in premarket trading when the biotech announced that it had struck a deal to collaborate with Pfizer on three new drug candidates. Report

> The Medicines Company believes it can succeed where Pfizer's R&D team has failed. The developer announced that it is buying the heart drug ApoA-I Milano from the pharma giant, which failed to make much progress with the program after spending $1.3 billion to buy Esperion, which had owned the therapy. Story

> In another sign that 2009 will end with a frenzy of new drug deals, Novartis is putting up $120 million to buy San Mateo, CA-based Corthera, securing complete control of the promising heart drug Relaxin and committing up to $500 million in milestones for the cardiovascular drug's ultimate success. Report

> Sanofi-Aventis' strategy to do more partnering with the world's most promising biotech companies may spur the pharma giant to take a $143 million stake in Denmark's Zealand Pharma. The two companies are already partnered on AVE0010/ZP10 for Type 2 diabetes, and a European newspaper reports that Sanofi is interested in snagging a 19.9 percent chunk of equity in Zealand. Report

> Acusphere's co-founder and CEO Sherri Oberg will assume a new role as executive chair. She will retain the title of president, but has resigned as CEO. Story

> Shares of pSivida rocketed up in overnight trading after investors got wind of the late-stage success of a new ophthalmic drug the biotech is co-developing with Alimera. Report

Vaccines News

> Most of the experts who served on federal review panels for new vaccines in 2007 had conflicts of interest that were either never discovered or never resolved, according to a new report from the inspector general of Health and Human Services. Story

> Researchers at Duke University have offered up a key insight that could help researchers develop a new AIDS vaccine. They found that the immune system is quick to eliminate critical B cells that the body could use to fight off the virus that causes AIDS. Finding a pathway around that obstacle, so that the B cells can do their work, would be a big step toward the development of an effective vaccine. Story

And Finally... New research may prescribe the same all-purpose pain reliever you may take for headaches, muscle pain and fever for something quite different: hurt feelings. Report