Proxy adviser takes Sun's side against Taro; Bristol raises dividend to 32 cents;

> India's Sun Pharmaceutical got more support in its battle to take over Israel's Taro Pharmaceutical Industries as proxy advisor Glass Lewis & Co. recommended that shareholders vote against proposals made by Taro's board. Report

> Bristol-Myers Squibb said Monday it raised its quarterly dividend by a penny, to 32 cents from 31 cents. BMS Release

> Looking to save money on its $500 million-plus annual legal bills, Pfizer's top in-house lawyer is changing the way the drugmaker pays the numerous law firms. Report

> Biogen Idec CEO and President James Mullen sold $7.4 million worth of company stock. Report

> Sanofi-Aventis doubled the size of the North Carolina Cancer Hospital's endowment with a $2 million donation. Report

> Novartis has had its three swine flu vaccines approved by the World Health Organization. Novartis Release

> Merck's Schering-Plough unit sues generics maker Apotex in an effort to stop a copy of the Nasonex allergy inhaler. Report

> Abbott Laboratories sues Sandoz for infringing a patent covering its muscle-relaxant Nimbex by seeking approval to market a generic copy in the U.S. Report

> GlaxoSmithKline's blood disorder drug Revolade has moved a step closer to gaining marketing approval in the European Union. Report

Biotech News

> Seattle's VLST confirmed today that it's completed a round of layoffs. In an email to Xconomy, the company declined to say how many employees were cut, though the paper speculates about 30 percent of the developer's 40 jobs were eliminated. Story

> PTC Therapeutics got an early Christmas gift this morning in the form of $50 million in financing. The round--PTC's first syndicated equity financing round in over four years--was led by new investor The Column Group and existing investor Delphi Ventures. Report

> Xconomy profiles Genocea, a 2008 Fierce 15 company that has made waves with its high-speed vaccine discovery platform. Genocea's technology mimics the human immune system in vivo in order to swiftly identify the antigens most likely to elicit an immune response. The goal is to cut the average time for finding an antigen for a vaccine to weeks or months, instead of years. Story

> India's drugmakers are embracing their rapidly growing pharma sector by pouring money into research and development. R&D spending at India's top 25 drug companies soared 17 percent in 2008-2009, according to a survey conducted by Pharmabiz. Report

> Shionogi is hoping to succeed where Merck, Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline have failed. The Japanese drug company is sticking with the development of its experimental obesity drug velneperit, even though other companies have dumped development of similar drugs in its class. Story

Biotech Research News

> A new stem cell therapy has been used to restore sight in a mutilated eye. A medical team in the U.K. extracted stem cells from the healthy eye of Russell Turnbull and then used the cells to seed a patch of amniotic tissue, which is used to treat burn victims. Story

> Speedier, low-cost genomic sequencing and profiling may help clinicians diagnose patients' susceptibility to disease and tolerance of selected drugs more quickly. But engineers need to find a way to increase the sensitivity of sensors used to detect the DNA molecules that define the human genome--something that could be achieved by reducing the number of target DNA molecule copies needed to obtain an accurate read. Report

> Most of the heads of Big Pharma and Big Biotech companies alike would duck and cover if attacked by animal rights activists--but not Novartis CEO Daniel Vasella (photo). Story

> One of the most perplexing challenges presented by the swine flu pandemic centered on the question of why some people were killed by a virus that had only a mild impact on the vast majority of its victims.  Now a Harvard researcher says it appears that the answer to that question may lie in IFITM proteins. Report

Manufacturing News

> Improved safety monitoring, cooperation with international partners, and enhanced transparency are roadmap objectives of which major government organization? If you guessed the European Medicines Agency... you're right! Maybe that cross-pond cooperation isn't as difficult as it seems. Story

> Serious tools are becoming available for manufacturers serious about sustainability. Applications and software to help measure sustainability are now offered by SAP, which has launched a sustainability-tracking application using its previously launched BusinessObjects sustainability performance management application. Report

> A short circuit is suspected as the cause of a fire at a drug-making plant in Indian that has killed two. Eight others were injured; four of them critically. Story

> What accounts for the low antigen level of the Sanofi-Aventis H1N1 vaccine for kids? The recalled 800,000 doses, in 0.25-mL pre-filled syringes intended for 6- to 35-month olds, have been found to be safe. They're apparently just a little less robust than they ought to be. Report

And Finally... There is a gnawing concern among some doctors and researchers that certain prescription generic drugs may not work as well as their brand-name counterparts. Report