Lorcaserin Weight-Loss Trials Weigh Heavily on Arena, Ramius Raises Offer to Buy Cypress Bio, Santarus Adds to Its Drug Portfolio, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

9/16/10Follow @bvbigelow

The game is afoot for Ramius Value and Opportunity Advisors, the private equity group in New York pursuing San Diego’s Cypress Bioscience, as it made a direct appeal to Cypress shareholders to support its unsolicited buyout offer. At Xconomy, we’re issuing a direct appeal to get your life sciences news here.

—The stage has been set for a crucial review today of lorcaserin, the weight-loss drug that San Diego’s Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: [[ticker:ARNA) has spent a dozen years and almost $1 billion developing. As Luke reported, Food and Drug Administration scientists reviewing Arena's clinical trial data found "noteworthy" safety issues and said lorcaserin barely met the agency's performance criteria. An independent FDA advisory panel is set to review locaserin data today.

---Ramius Value and Opportunity Advisors appealed directly to shareholders of San Diego's Cypress Bioscience (NASDAQ: CYPB) yesterday when it raised its unsolicited buyout offer by 25 cents to $4.25 a share. That increased the private equity firm's offer for all 38.6 million outstanding shares of Cypress to $164 million from almost $160 million. Cypress said it would review the increased offer and respond in 10 business days.

---Cambridge, MA-based Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ) says it is cutting 1,000 jobs from its estimated global workforce of roughly 12,000 people. Genzyme, which operates a diagnostics manufacturing and a gene therapy facilities in San Diego, says the cuts will happen over the next 15 months.

---San Diego-based CareFusion (NYSE: CFN) said it has formed a partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois in a program to track infection rates in 23 hospitals, using a CareFusion data mining system called Med Mined. CareFusion says almost 100,000 people die in the U.S. each year from hospital-acquired infections, and nearly one in 20 hospital patients acquires an infection during their stay.

---San Diego's Santarus (NASDAQ: SNTS), which faces competition from generic drug-makers as its acid reflux drug comes off patent, acquired two more experimental drugs for its development pipeline. Santarus got recombinant human C1 inhibitor (Rhucin) for hereditary angioedema from the Pharming Group and a humanized anti-VLA1 antibody drug for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases through its buyout of Covella Pharmaceuticals.

---Sequel Pharmaceuticals, the San Diego biotech that CEO Randall Woods founded as a sequel to NovaCardia (and with the same core group), has raised almost $1.4 million in a combination of debt, rights, and securities as part of a round intended to bring in more than $1.9 million. Sequel has been developing a drug candidate for treating an abnormal heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation.

---Shareholders of NexMed, the San Diego contract research organization (CRO), voted to change the name of the company to Apricus Biosciences (NASDAQ: [[APRI]]). The company’s previous ticker symbol was NEXM.

Fierce Biotech, an e-mail newsletter published by the Washington, DC-based Fierce Markets B2B digital media group, named two San Diego life sciences companies—Amira Pharmaceuticals and VentiRx Pharmaceuticals—to its eighth annual list of “Fierce 15″ most promising private biotech companies.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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  • http://www.lorcaserinpill.com/ Lorqess Drug

    Why is it that the FDA comes up with noteworthy safety issues but ARNA somehow never reports these through their entire testing phases? I think companies need to be a little more honest and transparent when they do their research.