Weekly Roundup 7-22-11

Egg + Sidewalk = Breakfast!

There is a huge mass of hot air here in Washington, D.C., and that isn’t even speaking of the weather.  But if you throw that in, it is really, really hot.  The petunias look wilted even at 6 a.m.  The hot weather is also perhaps the reason for many inexcusable fashion statements.  All around, it is unpleasant.

  • Win Some, Lose Some. This week Astra Zeneca got a taste of both when early in the week the Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee (EMDAC) cast a 6-9 vote against recommending approval of the company’s (developed jointly with BMS) investigational compound to treat diabetes dapaglifozin.  It was a first-in-class compound, which always face a higher level of scrutiny.  In its release on the matter, the company said that it would “continue to work closely with FDA to support the review” of the drug.  On the other hand, a few days later, the FDA approved the blood-thinning drug Brilinta (ticagrelor) to reduce cardiovascular death and heart attack in patients with acute coronary syndromes (ACS).
  • A Facebook Hacking – This week the Facebook page of a major pharmaceutical company – Pfizer – was hacked.  It is not the first time a Facebook page has been hacked, but it nevertheless got a lot of attention in the blogosphere.  As we are just a few weeks away from the policy change at Facebook that will no longer allow companies to shut off commentary from the public, the hacking combined with the policy change may lead many companies to re-evaluate their Facebook presence.  Though cooler heads might serve to remind that there is hacking risk to any adventure in the Internet, the incident does serve as a reminder that there are steps one should take to protect one’s Facebook asset.
  • Food Glorious Food - The Risk Communications Advisory Committee is going to meet to discuss communications around food related illnesses.  To my knowledge it is the first time that the Risk Communications Advisory Committee will take up a non-drug related risk communications issue – though I could easily stand corrected on that front.  Still, given the reluctance of Congress to fund the Food Safety Modernization Act and the potential for a lack of funding for existing protection programs such as the nation’s only E.coli screening program this may be a timely meeting.  On August 15, the committee will discuss the challenges of communicating about the evolving methodology in the attribution of foodborne illness. This coincides with the announcement this week that FDA was partnering with other federal agencies to release the Food Related Emergency Exercise Boxed (FREE-B) set, a Web-based collection of scenarios that will help government regulators, public health organizations and the food industry test their readiness for food-related emergencies, such as a human health emergency caused by an unintentional contamination of produce with E. coli O157:H7.  Food for thought.

That’s it for me this week folks.  By all means, stay cool wherever you are.  That means temperature-wise and also, of course, by wearing really groovy sunglasses….

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