East Coast Life Sciences Roundup: Insider Trading, Shire, Pfizer

Xconomy Boston — 

Alleged skullduggery by some New Jersey pharma execs, drug development pacts, and a European drug approval marked this holiday week on the East Coast.

—The holiday-shortened week started out with an apparent crime caper right out of Law and Order. Three New Jersey-based pharma execs from Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG), Sanofi (NYSE: SNY)and Stryker (NYSE: SYK) were charged with taking part in a seven-member insider trading ring that generated $1.7 million in allegedly ill-gotten gains over five years. The other four included some high school buddies and a friend from a winemaking club. The executives are facing both civil and criminal  charges.

—On a more positive note, Shire (NASDAQ: SHPG), based in Lexington, MA, said on Tuesday that it is gaining access to Boston Children’s Hospital’s world-renowned research through a three-year pact aimed at finding new drugs for rare pediatric diseases. The deal calls for Shire to make an initial upfront payment of an undisclosed amount to the hospital, and the company can fund selected research programs if it chooses, with a goal of coming up with drug candidates within the next three years.

—-Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), both based in New York City, finally got some good news  about their jointly developed blood thinner apixaban (Eliquis). The European Commission approved the drug on Tuesday to prevent stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation. Apixaban is widely expected to achieve blockbuster sales, but the FDA threw a spanner in the works in June when it unexpectedly delayed its decision on the drug, setting a new deadline of March 2013.

—Pfizer also reported an expansion of an earlier development pact with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The foundation will invest $58 million over six years in the drug giant’s efforts to find a treatment for one of the most common genetic flaws associated with the rare and deadly lung disease. Pfizer and the foundation have been working together since 2010.