Sepracor suffers as FDA halts Lunesta trials; Bayer sues Teva over Levitra copycat;

> Sepracor stock tanked after the FDA halted two pediatric studies of its blockbuster Lunesta sleeping pill and an experimental antidepressant failed a mid-stage trial. Report

> Bayer's healthcare unit filed a lawsuit to prevent Teva Pharmaceutical Industries from selling a copy of the erectile dysfunction pill Levitra. Report

> Eisai and Pfizer, partners on the Alzheimer's remedy Aricept, said they will wait for an expedited review of the U.K.'s treatment guidance for the disease rather than appealing NICE's decision against the drug in patients with early-stage disease. Report

> The level of efficiency in the Israeli government is "unacceptable" and must be improved to help boost growth, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries chairman Eli Hurvitz said Wednesday. Report

> Sanofi-Aventis announced that it is seeking a buyer for its site at Alnwick, U.K., where 170 people work; it is the company's only U.K. research facility. Report

> Scotland's Prostrakan has paid out neary £8 million ($13 million) for a tax bill to avoid a legal battle with Aventis Pharma. Report

> Abbott Laboratories officially opened its mature products division in Dublin, Ireland, today, creating 50 new jobs there. Report

> Biogen Idec will pay as much as $510 million for rights to market Acorda Therapeutics's experimental MS pill outside the U.S. Report

Biotech News

> Acorda Therapeutics has forged a $510 million licensing pact for its multiple sclerosis drug Fampridine-SR with Biogen Idec. And Biogen has agreed to pay a hefty $110 million of that in an upfront fee for the late-stage program. Report

> The FDA has asked Novartis for more information on its meningitis vaccine Menveo, which is likely to push back any approval date to late this year or early in 2010. Report

> A recent survey by Nature Biotechnology concluded that the average CEO in the UK earned close to half a million dollars in annual compensation, modest compared to many U.S. salaries. But that figure doesn't sit well with many of the investors being asked to bail out shaky developers. Report

> Repros Therapeutics is recalibrating clinical studies of its lead drug, dropping a 50 mg dose after researchers found that a small percentage of women in the studies of Proellex as a treatment for endometriosis demonstrated a dose-dependent increase in liver enzymes, a key marker of toxicity. Report

> CombinatoRx and Canada's Neuromed have agreed to merge in an all-stock deal that starts out with a 50-50 split of the combined company followed by a recalibration of ownership based on the FDA's decision--and timing--regarding Neuromed's pain drug Exalgo. Report

And Finally... Anti-anxiety benzodiazepines come with serious risks, including chemical dependence, and may be broadly over-prescribed, critics say. Report