Novartis profits fall less than expected; Watson trading high on Teva buyout talk;

> Novartis posted a lower-than-expected drop in first-quarter net profit, but took a cautious stance on its 2009 outlook due to the strength of the dollar; profits for the period dropped 15 percent to $1.96 billion on a 2 percent drop in sales to $9.71 billion. Report

> Watson Pharmaceuticals is seeing heavy stock and options trading amid rumors that Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries might buy the company. Report

> Portugal's Hovione, which makes pharmaceutical ingredients, has taken over a former Pfizer manufacturing plant in Ireland's County Cork, planning to create up to 80 new jobs. Report

> Irish drugmaker Elan said it was premature to give a timeline on when it would complete its strategic review; CEO Kelly Martin said its preferred outcome would be an alliance with a major drugmaker. Report

> Celgene's multiple myeloma treatment Revlimid got the nod from the U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) as an option for patents who hadn't responded to two previous therapies. Report

> Pharma and biotech companies gave a cautious welcome to U.K. budget office measures that could deliver government funding and tax incentives for drug development. Report

> Research Triangle Park, NC-based Tranzyme Pharma said its drug TZP-101 for gastroparesis was effective in a mid-stage trial. Report

> Elan reported today that the company recorded a wider loss in the first quarter due to restructuring charges for realignment of its biopharmaceuticals unit and U.S. tax charges, but Tysabri sales continue to rise. Report

> The economic mess plaguing the biotech and pharma industries is spreading to CROs. Report

> Roche's stock dropped 10 percent in Swiss trading following the announcement that Avastin did not meet the primary endpoint in a highly-anticipated Phase III trial. Report

> New York-based Immtech Pharmaceuticals is reorganizing its R&D operations to focus its resources on "business opportunitites" based on its discovery program and library of compounds. Report

> The CDC has mustered a group of 50 scientists and epidemiologists to study a rare new strain of swine flu that afflicted two children in the San Diego area last month. Report

> Rockville, MD-based Sanaria has launched a Phase I trial of its malaria vaccine candidate in adults. Report

And Finally... Hormone replacement therapy may raise a woman's risk of breast cancer and heart disease but it lowers her risk of colon cancer, according to two new studies. Report