Pfizer drops its obesity med, too; Biovail profits drop by 27%;

> One day after Sanofi-Aventis dropped its Acomplia development program, Pfizer became the latest company to drop an anti-obesity compound in a class of meds linked to psychiatric side effects. Release

> Biovail said third-quarter net income fell 27 percent to $48.4 million, or 31 cents a share, from $65.9 million, or 41 cents a share, earned in the year-earlier quarter. Report

> Johnson & Johnson, after a review, has consolidated its U.S. advertising creative work on more than 35 prescription drug brands at WPP Group and Interpublic Group. Estimated total revenue on the business exceeds $100 million. Report

> Device maker Smith & Nephew reported a 3 percent increase in third-quarter earnings, falling short of analysts' forecasts; the company also suspended its stock buyback program. Release

> Covidien is recalling 471,000 disposable insulin syringes because of mislabeling that could cause patients to receive an overdose, federal regulators said. Report

> CV Therapeutics got the FDA nod for a new indication on Ranexa, as a first-line treatment for chronic angina. Release

> Sun Pharmaceutical Industries announced that it got FDA approval to market generic Sinemet, Carbidopa and Levodopa tablets. Release

> Par Pharmaceutical said it will begin shipping generic versions of the injectable migraine treatment Imitrex (sumatriptan succinate injection) in 4mg and 6mg starter kits and 4mg and 6mg pre-filled syringe cartridges. Release

> Voters in Michigan appeared on the verge of endorsing a proposal to allow researchers to use discarded embryos from fertility clinics to devise new embryonic stem cell lines. The proposal had been fiercely contested by the state's Catholic hierarchy and right-to-life groups. With 87 percent of the votes counted, though, the initiative was winning 52-48 yesterday. Report

> A.P. Pharma has joined the list of biotech companies cutting back in the face of the economic crisis. The developer says it has eliminated 18 positions, about a third of its workforce, and placed several early-stage programs on the back burner while they concentrate on their lead therapy. Report

> SciClone Pharmaceuticals' late-stage therapy for hepatitis C failed to hit a primary endpoint in a late-stage trial. Report

> Merck is preparing to launch construction of a €200 million vaccine R&D facility in the southeastern area of Ireland. The pharma giant says that construction will get started next year and should wrap in 2010. Report

> The failure of Merck's HIV vaccine caused havoc in the field as the NIH pulled back and tried to find out what went wrong. Now French researchers led by Eric Kremer of the University of Montpellier in France believe they can explain why the crucial Merck HIV vaccine trial had to be stopped last fall after it raised the risk of HIV infection. Report

And Finally... Anyone looking for some solid reasons to feel bullish about the biotech industry's near-term prospects might want to avoid Steven Burrill's latest assessment. Black October, he says, hit the biotech industry hard. And the roundhouse blows delivered by the economic crisis, says the investment banker, is putting more than a few developers on the ropes. Article