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BioSpooky News Blurbs of the Year

BioSpooky News Blurbs of the Year By Michael Harris BioWorld Executive Editor

Editor's note: Last week's BioWorld Perspectives featured a special Halloween article, "Honoring Biotech's Best Costumes." Click here to read last week's edition, and please opt in for free to receive BioWorld Perspectives each week.

The FDA virtually gave GlaxoSmithKline plc's Avandia (rosiglitazone) a heart attack of its own when it essentially limited the drug's access to existing patients and only those new patients who could attest they had tried every other diabetes drug without success. GSK, no longer spending money on Avandia, has begun a suicide watch for the drug, reportedly depressed over its REMS and black-box designation, as well as the unpleasant references to rename it "Albatross." (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 24, 2010, and July 15, 2010.)

The falsely accused antihero that fought to clear his name lives on. The Fallen finding redemption was marijuana. Once disparaged, hunted and felonized, Mary Jane has traveled a long road to redemption, changing its destiny from prison cell to prescription pad.

There are almost daily news reports of drug market staff workers mysteriously disappearing from payrolls and almost supernaturally re-appearing at local unemployment offices all over the world. (See BioWorld Today, March 10, 2010.)

Unexplained alien abductions of Western R&D programs and drug manufacturing that paranormally re-surface on the other side of the world in India and China.

Amgen Inc. thought if it said "Vectibix" three times, it could conjure up an FDA approval treat. It worked the first two times as the cancer candidate soared through Phase II, but the Phase III try is threatening to send the company's stock plunging into the freefall abyss of multi-million dollar investment bombs. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 12, 2010.)

Observers and critics stop short of officially proclaiming it a hoax, but the "War of the Worlds"-type panic for "H1N1 – The Sequel" that the advertising trailers promoted a year ago was not followed by the reality of the plague that the promos promised. It seems the endangered public has outlived the unused and expired vaccine stockpile, as more than seventy million – representing approximately one-third – of the 229 million doses the U.S. ordered are about to meet their fate with the biohazard incinerator.

Believers of the theory of the doctor who wrote the vaccine/autism report that was responsible for an aggressive international debate have been undergoing an intervention sance ritual to reverse the spell his report cast over parents of vaccination-age kids, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, his co-authors and everyone except actress Jenny McCarthy have done their best to exorcise the doctor's, and the report's, credibility recently.

Genentech Inc. was acquired to become an avatar for Roche AG, but the experiment could still turn out to be a Frankenstein gaffe if the parent tries to transplant the Genentech brain. However, there are signs the co-existence assimilation seems to be working.

Biotech didn't escape the slaughter in drug land, as 28 biotechnology companies have been visited by the Grim Reaper to etch tombstones bearing their names over the past 12 months, with ConjuChem Biotechnologies Inc. being the latest to give up the ghost in July.

Avastin (bevacizumab, Genentech and Roche) has been floating in limbo in the FDA netherworld, haunted by ghostly regulatory voices in its head that give hope, then snatch it back, relent, then slam its foot in the door.

Stem cell researchers are in the ghoulish abyss of legislative limbo purgatory, caught in a perpetually maddening cycle of spurts of stimulating creativity followed by periods of idleness mixed with tedious court testimony proceedings.

There was a co-ed massacre at the university level, where many bright-eyed biotech wannabes and their projects were slaughtered in their youth, strangled by funding asphyxiation.

The Jekyll and Hyde stock performances of many big pharmas led to shareholder uprisings that precipitated the head-kill shots of many zombie board members, but not Genzyme Corp. CEO Henri Termeer, who continues to evade the wooden stake Carl Icahn has been carrying around with Termeer's name on it.

Sanofi-Aventis SA first tried to lure Genzyme with cheap treats, and then tried to possess it with a full-body-snatcher-type invasion. The next move will be to cast a $22 billion Good Witch kindness spell that hypnotizes Genzyme's board and stockholders into joining Sanofi-Aventis' plans to conquer the drug world. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 11, 2010.)

It turns out the patent cliff may only have been a cunning ruse to disguise the stealth patent bridge that big pharma is slyly building, as it is trying its best to become the very generics industry it has feared, detested and sought to thwart for the past 50 years.

And finally . . . This intercepted text message from denosumab$5bil: "I can't do this alone. I need help! Econozilla is too strong . . . it just won't stop!" (Qualified applicants, please apply at www.bioblockbustersuperherodrugs.com . . . Obesity drugs need not apply.)