Is Big Pharma down for the count?

Between the sweeping job cuts across Big Pharma, falling stock prices, stalled drug approvals, safety problems with drugs like Avandia and an expected avalanche of generic competitors to billion-dollar brand-name drugs, it’s certainly starting to look like the traditional drug industry’s best days are behind it.

Roundup: Biogenerics bill in limbo, clashing data on health IT benefits, the RNAi boom, and more

House-Senate confrontation set over biogenerics – Late last month, a key group of senators reached agreement on legislative provisions that would authorize copycat versions of biotech drugs, which are typically complex proteins manufactured by genetically engineered cells (see details here and here). These provisions would finally put biotech drugs — which don’t face cut-rate competition once their key patents expire — on a par with traditional pharmaceuticals, and have been a long time in coming. They’re not perfect, but they’re about as good a compromise as we’re likely to see any time soon..

Roundup: Genetic links to breast cancer, Avandia under attack, death and the drug official, and more

More genetic links for breast cancer – Whole-genome association studies that tease out links between minute genetic variations and the likelihood of disease are definitely building momentum. Over the last several days, researchers reported six new variations that increase the risk of breast cancer for women who have inherited them. (For background, see this Boston Globe piece or my recent take on the subject.) It’s now conceivable that scientists may soon have an excellent handle on the genetic contributions to this particular disease.