Sunday, November 20, 2011

Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, Big Plans to take on the antidepressant market: AstraZeneca and Targacept

This could be coming to a pharmacy near you: AstraZeneca and Targacept (a stem from RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co) are combining efforts to bring an nicotine receptor antidepresssant to the table, though the early returns on the prospective drug didn't look like it could compete with AstraZeneca's antipsychotic Seroquel.

Seroquel will soon be in generic form and AstraZeneca will need to fill that portfolio gap with something... like a new blockbuster. Seroquel has been touted as an antidepressant through clever marketing campaigns, and of course we all know that Seroquel got to market at all because of buried trial data to make the drug look good on paper.

28,000 or so lawsuits later we know how that went. Diabetes and weight gain seem to be the norm with Seroquel, though company spokespeople will tell you otherwise.

Savvy consumers might not want to deal with breaking in a new antidepressant co-created by a Big Tobacco company wanting to break in on that antipsychotic action. Instead, they might want to try Smoking quetiapine Seroquel, as in Mac Ball because quetiapine isn't as innocent as it appears.


Quetiapine abuse has been a cause for increased concern among clinicians. Several reports have highlighted this in the past. Reports of quetiapine abuse have varied in their routes of administration. The authors have had experience in managing several patients who have admitted to the use of quetiapine outside of prescription settings. This article examines the case of a recent patient on the authors’ inpatient unit who admitted to a novel route of abuse. While quetiapine’s abuse potential in the black market is well known, motivations for the abuse of quetiapine have varied in the past. Anxiety and insomnia has been amongst the reported motivations. Combination abuse of quetiapine with cocaine, called “Q ball,” have been reported previously. Quetiapine serves as a substitute for heroin when used in this combination. This article highlights a previously unreported combination of quetiapine with marijuana used in the inhalational route in what is termed a “Maq ball.”

Sounds like Big Profit $$$$

AstraZeneca, Targacept drug fails depression test Reuters

The drug, called TC-5214, has been deemed a potential big seller as the first in a new class of medicines that work by modulating neuronal nicotinic receptors. The companies have theorized that overstimulation of these receptors, or proteins, is associated with depression.

Shares of Targacept, a small U.S. drugmaker that began as part of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co, plunged 58 percent to $7.97 in heavy afternoon trading on the Nasdaq. Partner AstraZeneca fell 3.2 percent in London.

Data from three other Phase III trials of TC-5214 are expected by the first half of next year. Should the results prove favorable, the companies aim to seek approval for the drug in the United States in the second half of 2012 and in Europe in 2015, a spokeswoman at AstraZeneca said.

Leerink Swann analyst Seamus Fernandez, who had expected the drug to see $1 billion in sales by 2017, yanked the forecast due to the failed trial results.

"TC-5214 was the most promising pipeline candidate and possessed the strongest commercial synergies with the AstraZeneca portfolio," Fernandez said in a research note, noting it could still be approved if ongoing studies succeed.

TC-5214 is being assessed as an add-on therapy for patients who do not do well on standard antidepressants. It would compete with drugs like AstraZeneca's older Seroquel and could help the company once Seroquel faces cheaper generics.

AstraZeneca agreed in 2009 to pay as much as $1.24 billion for rights to TC-5214, including an upfront payment of $200 million. The drug has been one of the few potential bright spots in its pipeline."

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