Optimer Antibiotic Gets Panel Nod, CareFusion Buys Vestara, Tracon Raises $16.5M, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

4/7/11Follow @bvbigelow

The past week was big for life sciences news in San Diego, with acquisitions, funding deals, and important advances in new antibiotics grabbing much of the attention. We’ve got it rounded up for you here.

—An FDA advisory panel voted 13-0 in favor of recommending approval of a new antibiotic that San Diego’s Optimer Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: OPTR) developed to combat C. difficile, a dangerous bacterial infection people usually get in hospitals. The panel’s recommendation means Optimer’s drug, fidaxomicin, will likely be approved by the FDA, though the agency is not required to follow the recommendation. The company has spent nearly $200 million developing the drug over the past decade.

—The day after the panel vote, Optimer announced an agreement with Lexington, MA-based Cubist to co-promote fidaxomicin, sales of which could reach $250 million a year, according to some analysts. Optimer could pay Cubist as much as $47.5 million over the two-year period covered by the agreement. After the deal was announced Optimer shares fell by 81 cents, or almost 6 percent, to close at $12.99 a share.

Orexigen Therapeutics reported Monday that its experimental diet pill, naltrexone SR/bupropion SR (Contrave), didn’t affect the blood pressure of people who took the drug as part of a late-stage study. Orexigen presented its data at the American College of Cardiology conference in New Orleans, saying normal 24-hour blood pressure patterns were seen in 182 obese people who took the drug. The results were important because the drug failed to win FDA approval in February, and the agency said Orexigen needed to do more studies of the drug’s effects on heart function.

—While there is no shortage of ideas for new ways to fight dangerous bacterial infections, Luke wrote in his BioBeat column that the lack of innovation in the antibiotics field is worrisome. By coincidence, several San Diego leaders in antibiotics R&D are holding a news conference this afternoon at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute on antimicrobial resistance to … Next Page »

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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