Merck to donate $500M worth of Gardasil; Warner Chilcott offloads psoriasis rights for $1B;

> Merck will donate more than $500 million of its Gardasil cervical cancer vaccine to the Clinton Global Initiative as part of an effort to improve women's health in the developing world. Report

> Warner Chilcott, a maker of contraceptives, said privately held Leo Pharma would re-acquire the U.S. rights to its topical psoriasis treatments for about $1 billion in cash, sending its shares up 4 percent. Report

> Teva-Kowa Pharma, a joint venture between Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Kowa, plans to release several generic cancer drugs in 2010, the Nikkei business daily said. Report

> Flu shots were significantly more effective in preventing healthy adults from getting sick than inhalable spray vaccines, according to a new study. Report

> Two Japanese studies showed AstraZeneca's cancer drug Iressa provided significant advantages over types of chemotherapy for patients with a genetic mutation. Report

> Nycomed has unveiled plans to invest $65-75 million in a building of a state-of-the-art production plant in Russia. Report

> AstraZeneca was downgraded to sell from neutral on Thursday by Goldman Sachs, which said shares are likely to underperform ahead of the court hearings over its cholesterol drug Crestor. Report

> Generic drug distributor Caraco Pharmaceutical Laboratories said Georges Ugeux has resigned from the board of directors. Report

Biotech News

> The Dutch biotech OctoPlus is axing a quarter of its staff, shedding costs while it focuses on advancing its drug delivery technology. Report

> Pfizer R&D chief Martin MacKay has vowed to meld the pharma giant's research ops with Wyeth's within two months of completing their planned merger. Report

> Plexxikon's early-stage experimental melanoma drug PLX4032 looks like a "major breakthrough," says one leading researcher after reviewing new data from a small trial. Report

> Chelsea Therapeutics stunned analysts and investors this morning, reporting that a late-stage trial of its experimental neurological disorder drug Droxidopa failed to hit its primary endpoint. Report

Vaccines News

> Two new studies came out this week that could play a big role in shaping the market for seasonal flu vaccines. Report

> After the vaccine industry gears up for the huge global campaign against swine flu this fall, the World Health Organization is expected to ask major manufacturers to blend their swine flu vaccines into the annual supply of seasonal influenza vaccines. Report

> AIDS vaccine investigators would have taken just about any positive indication in a major human trial as a hopeful sign. And today many were clearly impressed to see that a huge study of a combo HIV vaccine reduced the risk of being infected with HIV by 31 percent--the first tangible clinical proof in a quarter century that researchers appear to be on the right trail. Report

And Finally... Will Big Pharma's mergers be followed by Big Pharma spinoffs? Report