Patients enrolled in the AZ's Medicare Part D won't pay co-pays; Taro seeks backers in Sun fight;

> AstraZeneca announced today that patients enrolled in the company's  Medicare Part D prescription savings program will no longer pay co-pays for their medicines through the program. Release

> Concerned with the recent move of key investor and 10 percent shareholder Templeton Asset Management Company Ltd to support India's Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd to take control of Taro Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, the Israel-based Taro has sought the backing of its shareholders to fight a proxy fight of the Indian company. Report

> Bayer Healthcare is recalling 100,000 packages of Alka-Seltzer cold capsules because some do not properly display warning information about drowsiness. Report

> SOHM, Inc., a generic pharmaceutical manufacturer that produces and markets generic drugs covering all major treatment categories, announced today the appointment of Mr. Shaunak Parikh as Vice President of Operations. Release

> Mexican pharmaceutical firm Genomma Lab Internacional SAB said in a stock market filing that its float has risen to about 32.3 percent after a major investor reduced its stake in the company. Report

> Antidepressants may go well beyond just easing the symptoms of depression; they may also make people less neurotic, U.S. researchers said on Monday. Report

Biotech News

> There's plenty of news spilling out of the ASH meeting today. Here's a roundup of the highlights. Report

> A start-up biotech company with deep scientific roots in New York has garnered $12 million to get to work on a cancer platform. Therasis raised the Series A cash from Tilocor Life Science. Report

> A day after ending a collaboration with Genmab on an antibody program, Roche pulled the partnership rug out from underneath Actelion, dropping out of their pact for ACT-128800, which has shown promise for autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Report

> Antibodies make up one of the hottest markets for new therapeutics. For example, Novo Nordisk is slapping down $24 million in upfront cash and promising up to $157.5 million more to ZymoGenetics for an experimental antibody now tagged for the Danish company's burgeoning autoimmune diseases pipeline. ZymoGenetics, spun off from the Danish biotech in 2000, still has close relations with Novo, which owns about a third of its stock. Report

> One reason the deal-making tempo in biotechnology is speeding up is the booming business for personalized medicines. Analysts at PricewaterhouseCoopers put on their green visors and predicted that the market for personalized therapies, already $232 billion in the U.S., is set to grow at a brisk 11 percent annual pace. Report

Biotech Research News

> As promised, the NIH approved 13 new embryonic stem cell lines for use in federally sponsored research work. The approval pushes past the demarcation line drawn by President George W. Bush more than eight years ago when he limited the use of federal dollars to a group of existing lines. Report

> For a start-up, Boston-based Aura Biosciences has been attracting considerable attention for its work on nano-sized hollow proteins that can be used to deliver cancer meds straight to their target. A few days ago, the World Economic Forum named Aura a Tech Pioneer, one of 26 technology companies that were recognized by the group. Report

> Few countries have been as badly stung by the financial crisis as the U.K., and its biotech industry has felt the lash. But the country is fighting back, pouring significant sums into its renowned research industry. And this week officials unveiled their design for a flagship, £600 million research center that will be built in London in the shape of a pair of chromosomes. Report

> A two-headed compound obtained from soil bacteria may lead to the production of the next generation of antibiotics, researchers in the UK report. The potent compound, called simocyclinone, shut down crucial bacterial enzymes in an unusual two-pronged attack--possibly reducing the potential for bacterial resistance, Chemistry World reports. Report

> A Chinese newspaper reports that the Inspur Group is teaming up with a genomics institute at the Chinese Academy of Sciences to develop a third-generation genome sequencing technology that can cut as much as 99 percent off the price of new sequencing projects. Report

> Investigators say that a new approach to inhibiting the hepatitis C virus worked amazingly well in a group of four chimpanzees. And now researchers have taken the therapy into the clinic for the first time, testing it in humans in a Phase I trial. Report

And Finally... Biotech buyouts are all the rage these days. Following fast on the heels of yesterday's news that Gloucester is being bought out by Celgene, Merrimack Pharmaceuticals announced its deal to buy South San Francisco-based Hermes Biosciences. And Biogen Idec continues to press development partner Facet Biotech to accept its offer. Report