Those who can make you believe absurdities, will make you commit atrocitie —Voltaire

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Roche to suspend HIV research, seeing no advances

Big Pharma starts AIDS pullout

Roche to suspend HIV research, seeing no advances
By Deepa Seetharaman

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche Holding AG will suspend its HIV research because none of its pending medicines represent significant improvement over existing drugs, a company spokeswoman said on Friday.

"Research scientists currently working in HIV will be reassigned to other activities," Linda Dyson, a spokeswoman in Roche's U.S. office in New Jersey, said in an e-mail.

Dyson confirmed an e-mail sent on Wednesday to some activists informing them of the decision. In that e-mail, the company said it "decided to refocus our resources within virology on diseases in which we can deliver substantial improvements over existing medications."

Dyson declined to specify how much Roche has been investing in HIV research.

She also said she could not specify how many employees worked in the HIV research division. Roche employs 5,000 people in the U.S. and 3,000 in its New Jersey office.

The company said in the e-mail to some activists that it initially had been excited about the potential for drugs in pre-clinical testing, but it has "concluded that none would provide a true incremental benefit for patients compared to medicines currently on the market."

Roche said it would continue to support its molecular diagnostic tests and drugs already on the market, including the fusion-inhibitor Fuzeon.

Roche has partnered with Morrisville, North Carolina-based biotech Trimeris Inc to sell Fuzeon, which netted $266.8 million in sales last year.

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