NICE won't fund Alzheimer's drugs; Contract manufacturing to grow 16% yearly;

> Alzheimer's drug makers failed to win expanded use in Britain, after NICE refused to overturn its earlier decision not to fund the class of meds that comprises Eisai's best-selling Aricept, Novartis' Exelon, Johnson & Johnson's' Razadyne, and Forest Laboratories' Namenda. Report

> Demand for biopharmaceutical contract manufacturing will grow 16 percent a year over the next five years, according to analysis by market research group HighTech Business Decisions. Report

> Belgium's Solvay said rival firm Perrigo Israel Pharmaceuticals had applied for approval from U.S. authorities to sell a generic version of Solvay's treatment for testosterone deficiency. Report

> French oil and gas company Total has cut its stake in Sanofi-Aventis to under 10 percent, French market regulator AMF said in a statement on Wednesday. Report

> Astellas Pharma Global Development tapped Dr. Peter Carberry as its senior vice president and head of global development operations. Astellas release

> Leaders of six swine flu-infected countries have been briefed by the WHO in preparation for a "probable change" in the agency's level of pandemic alert. Report

> MDS posted a second-quarter loss on Thursday and said it plans to cut 180 jobs as the Canadian health sciences company copes with lower spending in the health services sector. Report

> GlaxoSmithKline has awarded Rapp the global direct marketing and digital accounts for its NiQuitin CQ and Alli brands following a pitch. Report

Biotech News

> Amgen's high-profile drug denosumab appears headed for an FDA expert panel review--an important step on the road to a final regulatory decision. Report

> Pfizer is claiming success in a mid-stage trial of an experimental oral drug for rheumatoid arthritis, saying the data has helped it hone in on the doses that will be tested in an upcoming Phase III study of CP-690,550. Report

> San Mateo, CA-based Bayhill Therapeutics is pocketing a $25 million upfront fee and stands to gain up to $325 million in milestones from a new licensing deal with Genentech covering its early-stage Type 1 diabetes therapy. Report

> Daiichi Sankyo, Japan's third largest pharma company, is on the prowl for new biotech acquisitions in Europe that can help advance its cancer research work. And the hungry pharma player has also budgeted $5 billion to add to its portfolio of heart therapies and penetrate new markets. Report

> With standard diabetes drugs like Avandia and Actos drawing increasing scrutiny about safety concerns, a new class of diabetes therapy--dubbed GLiPs--is moving much closer toward regulatory approval. Report

Vaccines News

> There's widespread expectation that the World Health Organization will declare a phase 6 pandemic alert this morning--the first such warning since 1968. Report

> Looking to cultivate some expert assistance for on-the-ground vaccine research work, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics is partnering with the University of Siena to offer a unique, two-year Masters program covering the clinical development of vaccines for a group of doctors from developing countries. Report

> Vaccine teams for four of the world's largest vaccine manufacturers say they have the seed stock they need to develop a new swine flu vax for use this autumn. But the researchers add that they're still uncertain just how much of the growing demand for the vaccine can be met. Report

> GlaxoSmithKline has taken the wraps off its new, $600 million vaccine manufacturing plant in Singapore, which will produce jabs for a range of childhood diseases such as meningitis, pneumonia and blood poisoning. And the opening ceremony featured plenty of boasting. Glaxo chief Andrew Witty called the plant "possibly the best vaccine facility anywhere in the world." Report

And Finally... Prostate cancer patients need three years of treatment known as chemical castration to suppress the production of tumor-fueling hormones and improve their chance of survival, a study found. Report