Merck sales, profits drop on strong dollar; Schering boosts earnings by 45 percent;

> Merck reported second-quarter sales of $5.9 billion, depressed 3 percent over last year due to currency effects; net income also dropped to $1.56 billion from $1.77 billion. Merck release

> Schering-Plough boosted second-quarter earnings by 45 percent to $671 million, despite the fact that net sales dropped by 5.6 percent to $4.65 billion. Report

> Boston Scientific said quarterly net earnings rose 61 percent, topping expectations, on strong demand for its heart devices, sending its shares up 7 percent in after-hours trading. Report

> India's Dr Reddy's Laboratories nearly tripled net profits to $50 million on strong sales of its generic version of the migraine drug Imitrex. Report

> FDA approved vaccines for the upcoming 2009-2010 seasonal influenza season in the U.S.; the shots won't protect against H1N1 flu, which will require a separate vaccine. Report

> Pfizer's Celsentri/Selzentry HIV med suppressed the virus to undetectable levels and boosted T-cell count better than efavirenz did, according to 96-week data from a company-funded study. Pfizer release

Biotech News

> In a big turnaround from the bleak numbers posted in the first quarter, venture investing in the biopharmaceuticals field jumped 72 percent in the second quarter, according to VentureSource, a research unit of VentureWire publisher Dow Jones & Co. Report

> Shares of Orexigen Therapeutics spiked 32 percent in premarket trading as investors got wind of positive data on its experimental obesity therapy. Report

> Oraya Therapeutics has raised $42 million in Series C financing, which it plans to use to finance an expansion of its clinical trials of radiosurgical treatments for eye diseases. Report

> With an NDA looming for its closely watched prostate cancer drug Provenge, Seattle-based Dendreon is scouting sites in Atlanta for an advanced, $80 million manufacturing site that could employ more than 300 people. Report

> Shares of Human Genome Sciences tripled today after the company reported positive data for its experimental lupus therapy, which has faced a long lineup of skeptics. Report

Research News

> The long, hard journey between a medical inspiration in the lab and an FDA approval often takes years--and years--to complete. Now the University of Florida at Gainesville will see if $26 million in NIH grant money can shorten that scientific odyssey. Report

> Pumping good antibodies into the blood stream through the use of intravenous immunoglobulin could significantly lower a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's and other disorders of the brain, according to a team of researchers. Report

> A team of scientists report that they've made a key breakthrough on a new therapy that can prevent anaphylactic shock--a severe allergic reaction that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes death. Report

> A synthetic molecule developed at the University of Rochester in New York was used to restore the healthy operation of muscle cells and reduce symptoms of the most common form of muscular dystrophy. Report

And Finally... Thomas Farina, the Pfizer sales manager convicted for his role in leading a team of rogue drug reps who promoted Bextra for off-label use, was sentenced to home confinement and electronic monitoring for six months. Report