Post-ASCO, a cancer-drug news roundup

The American Society of Clinical Oncology has packed up and headed back north, leaving a few straggling bits of news in its wake. Here's a roundup of tidbits we didn't want to get lost in the move; some are from ASCO, some just cancer-related and thus released concurrently. Check it out.

  • Older women can benefit as much as younger women do from Merck's human papillomavirus vaccine Gardasil, Colombian researchers write in the new Lancet. Women 24 to 45 with no HPV history were much less likely to get infected if they were injected with Gardasil than if they got placebo shots, the scientists found. Merck has been working toward broader use of Gardasil, which is FDA-approved for girls and women 9 to 26. Approval for use in older women could give the vaccine a crucial boost at a time when its sales are slowing.
  • Genzyme and Bayer made their Campath licensing deal official. Part of a $1.25 billion deal between the two companies, the Campath rights transfer gives Genzyme responsibility for developing the cancer drug as a remedy for multiple sclerosis. The arrangement also covers cancer drugs Fludara and Leukine.
  • Cancer treatment is more about drug cocktails than single drugs anymore, and the Wall Street Journal Health Blog takes a look at the trend away from single agents and toward drug combinations. Featured: the Merck/AstraZeneca deal and Nexavar-plus-Tarceva.
  • The FDA is mulling the risks of Rituxan after reports of serious infections in patients using the cancer med. Among the ideas under discussion are shorter courses of treatment and treatment breaks as potential risk-reduction strategies.

- read the Gardasil piece at MSNBC
- check out the Genzyme news from the Boston Globe
- see the item at the Health Blog
- find the Rituxan news from the Wall Street Journal

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