Novartis says its new oral MS drug prevents relapses

Novartis ties up with USV to market Galvus in IndiaGeneva - Swiss drugmaker Novartis said Wednesday that 80 to 83 per cent of patients in a year-long clinical trial of its new drug for the treatment of multiple sclerosis had remained relapse-free. The company said the results were in line with its previous studies on the FTY720 oral compound. The data show the relapse rate at one year was
52 per cent lower for those in the trial of the new drug compared with patients using existing medications on the market.

Swiss flu medicine producer Roche ups its preparedness

RocheGeneva - Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche announced Wednesday that it had increased its preparedness level in response to the World Health Organization (WHO) decision to raise the pandemic influenza alert by one level to phase 4. Roche, in a statement, said it was working with "the WHO and governments around the world to make the oral anti-viral medication Tamiflu available to patients in need."

Tamiflu, produced by Roche, has been deemed to be effective against swine flu.

The company said that to date it had filled 220 million treatment courses of the drug ordered by governments.

Six athletes fail Olympic doping tests in retests

Six athletes fail Olympic doping tests in retests Lausanne, Switzerland - Six athletes have tested positive for the latest generation of the blood booster EPO at the Beijing Olympics, the International Olympic Committee said on Tuesday after retesting of Games' samples was completed. The IOC said that the six athletes submitted seven positive samples for the substance known as CERA.

The IOC did not identify the athletes but their national Olympic Committees have been informed of the adverse findings to set up the necessary proceedings.

Switzerland and US begin taxation talks

Switzerland and US begin taxation talks Bern - Swiss and US tax authorities began negotiations on Tuesday on opening and re-drawing the double taxation agreements, an official confirmed. The negotiations followed Switzerland's announcement last month, along with other countries with banking secrecy laws, that it would relax the strict rules and help fight tax fraud in line with the standards of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

That OECD has placed Switzerland on a so-called grey list until it implements its pledges.

IATA: Timing of swine flu outbreak bad for airlines

IATA: Timing of swine flu outbreak bad for airlinesGeneva - The timing of the swine flu outbreak, along with an economic crisis that was pounding the airline industry "could not be worse," the head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Tuesday. "It is still too early to judge what the impact of swine flu will have on the bottom line. But it is sure that anything that shakes the confidence of passengers has a negative impact on the business," Giovanni Bisignani said.

WHO: No need for travel, pork import restrictions

WHO: No need for travel, pork import restrictions Geneva - World Health Organization officials reiterated Tuesday that travel restrictions would not help stem the spread of the swine influenza virus. "Border controls don't work, screenings don't work," said spokesman Gregory Hartl, speaking to reporters in Geneva. "Travel restrictions do not help."

In response to action by some countries which have banned pork from Mexico and some US states, the WHO reaffirmed that it did not recommend such moves.