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The Blog of Drug Discovery News

Prince of Darkness and wife bring personal genomics issues to light

Last week, our senior editor, David Hutton, shared with you the news that rock star Ozzy Osbourne had his full genome sequence. Shortly after the Prince of Darkness revealed the results of his testing at the TEDMED conference in San Diego, his wife, Sharon Osbourne—a celebrity of her own right, between managing her husband’s career and her many television gigs—discussed the experience on her new talk show, “The Talk.”

“The Talk” is a daily talk/variety show co-hosted by Julie Chen, Sarah Gilbert, Holly Robinson Peete, Leah Remini and Marissa Jaret Winokur.

According to the Osbournes, the couple decided to allow Cofactor Genomics and Knome Inc. to sequence and analyze their DNA, respectively, because “they were looking for a celebrity to say, “OK, I don’t mind knowing what my medical life is going to be and I don’t mind sharing it with the world,” said Sharon to her co-hosts.

“Eventually—say, in 10 years, this invention will be in every doctor’s office, all over the world, where they take your blood, they analyze it, and they will tell you your complete medical path in life,” Sharon, who is a colon cancer survivor, said. “Everything, from your allergies, to your heart, to your brain, to how clever you are, to what you excel in. It’s such a leap, scientifically and medically, for all of us, that in 10 years, we’ll go into a doctor’s office and you’ll know if you have a cancer gene. You will know how to deal with it before it becomes an active cancer, or Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s.”

According to Sharon, among the insights Ozzy gained into his DNA were that he is allergic to coffee, has a “slight nerve disorder” as well as “the addictive gene” and is a” distant cousin” of TV talk show host and comedian Stephen Colbert. But Ozzy wasn’t exactly eager to hear the results, she said.

“He thought that it was, ‘where am I going to die,’ like someone was going to go to somebody and they were going to read his palm, like, ‘where am I going to go, so I never go into that place?'” Sharon said.

As David shared with you all last week, Ozzy has said that if genetic testing determines he has a risk of developing an untreatable disease such as Alzheimer’s, he’d rather not know about it. Ozzy’s tests came back negative in that regard, but Sharon is eagerly awaiting her results and hoping for the same outcome.

“The reasons I wanted to do it were because my father died of Alzheimer’s, and my mother’s mother died of Alzheimer’s, she said. “I want to know if I’m going to get it, so I can get my life in order.”

“I don’t know if I want to know,” said Sharon’s co-host, Peete, an actress and advocate for autism awareness and research. That’s the sentiment expressed by many folks since personal genetic testing became commercially available. We first reported on this debate in July 2009, when I interviewed 23andMe about a partnership the personal genomics company forged with PatientsLikeMe.com, an online patient community and platform for collecting and sharing patient data, on a large-scale genetic study of Parkinson’s disease. In an editorial column that month, I revealed that 23andMe was facing controversy because some view that patients may not be able to “handle” knowing more about their health, and that some doctors feel it’s not their responsibility to “explain” the outcome of these personal genetic tests to their patients.

In September, we also reported that some “direct-to-consumer” personal genetic testing providers are under federal scrutiny for alleged misleading test results, deceptive marketing and other questionable practices.

What about you? Do you want to know what sort of health problems your DNA has in store for you?

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November 7, 2010 Posted by | Labwork & Science | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Market may be shrinking, but there are opportunities not to be sneezed at

According to global business information and analysis firm Datamonitor, generic erosion is set to shrink the allergic rhinitis market, and the firm predicts a 20% decline in sales value over the next 10 years despite a marginal increase in sales volume.

Datamonitor estimates that there are approximately 181 million people living with allergic rhinitis in the seven major markets, driving disease-specific drug sales of approximately $5 billion in 2009. This is set to drop to $4 billion in 2019 as a result of the entrance of generics following patent expiries, most notably in the United States.

However, despite the forecast drop in sales in the allergic rhinitis market, Datamonitor has identified potential growth areas, most notably in the immunotherapy segment of the market. Furthermore, life cycle management strategies have been identified that may help to lessen the impact of patent expiry of symptomatic treatments.

“Immunotherapy is the only treatment option for allergic rhinitis with a disease modifying potential, but concerns over cost and safety, particularly for subcutaneous formulations, have kept symptomatic treatments as the more popular choice,” notes Jacoba van der Gaag, healthcare analyst at Datamonitor. “However, in recent years we’ve been witnessing large-scale development programs in immunotherapy for the first time, driven largely by new guidelines and changing regulations. This will always be a niche market, though this innovation is now promising growth.”

For example, Datamonitor forecasts that two new sublingual tablets targeting grass allergies, Grazax (ALK-Abelló) and Oralair (Stallergènes), will have combined sales of $264 million in the United States and European Union by 2019. The potential for growth in this market is reflected by the pipeline for allergic rhinitis, which is dominated by immunotherapies targeting multiple types of allergen.

Another opportunity exists within the antihistamine class, where life cycle management strategies are used to lessen the impact of generic erosion. An established strategy amongst key brands is the reformulation of molecules and/or combinations with decongestants. This strategy helps to reduce the loss to franchise sales and strengthen brand recognition following patent expiry of the primary molecule.

Jacoba concludes: “The success of this strategy relies heavily on timing of new launches relative to generic entry. Merck’s Clarinex (desloratadine) suffered as a result of launching after its predecessor Claritin’s (loratadine) patent expired, which was demonstrated by it reaching only a quarter of Claritin’s peak sales in 2009. Meda Pharma, on the other hand, has seen successful patient switching from once to twice-daily azelastine having launched prior to patent expiry, and is developing an azelastine/fluticasone combination that is expected to further strengthen its franchise.”

September 29, 2010 Posted by | Corporate | , , , | Leave a comment