FDA Approvals for Alkermes & Vertex Among the NE Life Sciences News

2/3/12Follow @xconomy

News of FDA drug approvals shone the spotlight on some New England biotechs this week.

—Waltham, MA-based Alkermes (NASDAQ: ALKS) and San Diego-based Amylin Pharmaceuticals(NASDAQ: AMLN) won FDA approval for their injectable diabetes drug exenatide once-weekly (Bydureon). This was their third time seeking clearance for the drug, which uses technology from Alkermes to last long enough in the bloodstream to turn it into a once-weekly injection

—Additionally, the FDA cleared a drug developed by Lexington, MA-based Curis and its partner Genentech as treatment for a common form of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma. The drug, vismodegib (Erivedge), is the first approved product for Curis.

—They say good news comes in threes. Cambridge-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals also got a faster-than-expected FDA OK to start selling its drug ivacaftor (Kalydeco) as a treatment for a rare form of cystic fibrosis. That’s the second drug approval for Vertex (NASDAQ: VRTX), which also sells a treatment for hepatitis C. Bonnie Ramsey, one of the key people involved in developing the drug, talked to my colleague Luke about the implications of the approval.

—But there was some bad news, too: A week after reporting data that its pancreatic cancer treatment saridegib (IPI-926) showed some success in a small study, Infinity Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: INFIhalted a bigger, mid-stage clinical trial of the drug when it showed patients were living longer in the placebo group. The Cambridge, MA-based company’s shares fell more than 30 percent after the news last Friday.

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