Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., and Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif., are among 39 pharmaceutical companies being sued by California for alleged drug price fixing that forced the state's Medicaid program to overpay millions of dollars. In California, health care providers are reimbursed for drugs dispensed to Medicaid patients, and the prices are based on wholesale figures provided to California's Department of Health Services by the drug manufacturers. A small pharmacy's lawsuit against Abbott Laboratories and Wyeth Inc., of Madison, N.J., prompted an investigation by the attorney general's office, and as a result, California joined the lawsuit in 2003 and then expanded it to include 37 other manufacturers.

Avitar Inc., of Canton, Mass., received notice from the American Stock Exchange indicating that the common stock of Avitar will be delisted effective Monday. The delisting was based upon the failure of the company to achieve compliance with the continued listing standards of Amex, particularly due to losses and the resulting deficit of shareholders' equity. Avitar is focused on oral fluid diagnostics and the disease and clinical testing market, among other things.

Cancer Therapy & Research Center, of San Antonio, said its recent study demonstrated the potential of focusing on an individual's protein composition and levels of certain proteins associated with particular cancers, to both predict cancer susceptibility and to help determine the most effective therapy for that individual. Researchers tested docetaxel and paclitaxel. Docetaxel was found to be superior to paclitaxel in inhibiting growth of human lung and prostate cancer cells that had low levels of Bcl-2. Yet docetaxel was no more effective than paclitaxel against breast cancers, which showed high levels of Bcl-2.

Dyax Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., filed a shelf registration statement to offer and sell up to 9 million shares of common stock from time to time. The terms of any future offerings would be established at the time of the offering. Proceeds would be used for general corporate purposes, including financing its clinical development programs in the areas of cancer and inflammatory indications.

Forest Laboratories Inc., of New York, said it is negotiating in good faith a resolution to its patent infringement suit against Alphapharm Pty. Ltd., an Australian subsidiary of Merck KGaA, of Darmstadt, Germany. The dispute involves a U.S. patent for Forest's Lexapro (escitalopram oxalate) product. Forest and its licensing partner H. Lundbeck A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, also are involved in litigation over the patent with Miami-based Ivax Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Cipla Ltd., of Mumbai, India.

Genome Canada, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, reported 33 new genomics and proteomics research projects totaling $346 million. Of that, $167.2 million is provided by Genome Canada and $179.3 million by Canadian and international partners. The money will be used for projects focused on health, agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

Medicure Inc., of Winnipeg, Canada, adopted a shareholder rights plan to encourage fair treatment of its shareholders in the event of a takeover bid. The plan gives shareholders time to properly assess the bid without undue pressure and the board of directors the option to consider alternatives that allow shareholders to receive the full value of their stock. It will be submitted to shareholders at the annual meeting Oct. 25. The cardiovascular drug developer is not aware of any takeover bids.

Merck & Co. Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J., might consider settling some Vioxx lawsuits of those defendants who took the drug for a long time and had few risk factors for heart disease, the company's general counsel told The New York Times and the The Wall Street Journal. That revelation comes after Merck lost the first trialed Vioxx case, in which a Texas jury awarded the widow of a man who took Vioxx $253 million. Merck withdrew Vioxx in September after a clinical trial found an increased risk of heart attacks in those who took the drug daily for more than 18 months.

Synthetech Inc., of Albany, Ore., said its board appointed Daniel Fagan chairman. Fagan has served as a Synthetech director since 2001, and he succeeds Paul Ahrens, who is a founder of Synthetech and will remain a director of the company. Fagan also is the president and CEO and a director of PepTx Inc. Synthetech is a fine chemicals company specializing in organic synthesis, biocatalysts and chiral technologies.

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