Senator wants military to review antidepressant use; Pfizer absorbing Wyeth lickety-split, CEO says;

> Roche, Elan and Biogen Idec are pooling their resources to study why patients taking some drugs develop the rare brain infection PML. Report

> More than 140,000 dementia patients in Britain are given antipsychotic drugs needlessly and overprescribing of the medicines is linked to an extra 1,800 deaths in the elderly each year, a government-backed report said. Report

> Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler said the drugmaker is integrating its Wyeth purchase far faster than previous big acquisitions, and it will no longer be overly dependent on one or two blockbuster medications. Report

> The state of Texas declined to join a fraud lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson by a fired sales representative whose separate whistleblower complaint is the subject of a jury trial pending in New Jersey. Report

> A four-year investigation into a pharmaceutical giant's alleged off-label marketing of an antipsychotic drug has earned a $24 million settlement for Utah. Report

> Ranbaxy Laboratories, India's top drug maker by sales, received WHO pre-qualification for its Indinavir anti-retroviral AIDS drug. Report

> Celesio, Europe's biggest publicly-traded drug wholesaler, reported a third-quarter loss after writedowns at its pharmacies unit. Report

> Roche and Novartis were rated "underweight" in new coverage at Barclays. Report

> The drug Sprycel, FDA-approved for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia, significantly inhibited the growth and invasiveness of ovarian cancer cells and also promoted their death, a study found. Report

Biotech News 

> With biotech companies increasingly playing the role of chief innovators in the drug development world, Big Pharma's appetite for new deals continues to grow. And that's helping to drive up valuations for developers, according to Burrill & Co. Report

> Novartis' recent billion-dollar bet on China R&D has some big implications for India. With the drug giant waging a high-stakes court fight over patent protection for the cancer blockbuster Gleevec, Novartis CEO Daniel Vasella (photo) says that the subcontinent's reputation as a low-cost R&D center is losing its luster. Report

> Altus Pharmaceuticals took another long stride toward the biotech graveyard yesterday, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy as it winds down its operations. Report

> Altair Therapeutics, a San Diego-based spin-off developer of new respiratory therapies, has drummed up an additional $7 million in new venture funds to back its work. Report

> Bayer will be increasing its R&D spending in 2010 and enter alliances to fight diseases like TB that largely affect developing nations, according to Werner Wenning (photo), the German group's chairman. Report

Vaccine News

> The R&D upheaval now underway at the newly merged operations of Pfizer and Wyeth will leave a number of research facilities involved in vaccine work. Report

> Tiny Seattle-based Kineta has reaped $6.8 million of a $13 million grant to fund the development of new adjuvants for vaccines. Report

> Production of H1N1 vaccine at two U.S. Sanofi-Aventis facilities is "working optimally," according to Sanofi-Aventis CEO Chris Viehbacher (photo). Reports

> GlaxoSmithKline finally won an approval for its H1N1 vaccine from the FDA, but don't look for any big shipments to the U.S. The regulatory approval clears the way for Glaxo to deliver only 7.6 million doses of the swine flu shot in December. Report

And Finally... A Maryland senator has asked the Pentagon for information on how many troops in war zones have been prescribed antidepressants while they were deployed. Report