This year's offerings from the pharmaceutical pipeline should make quite a few people healthier. GlaxoSmithKline has filed for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of lapatinib (Tykerb), a breast-cancer drug that in combination with chemotherapy delayed the growth of tumors by more than eight months in patients who no longer responded to first-time Herceptin therapy. That's double the tumor-free time provided by treatment with chemotherapy alone. An added bonus: it's pill based, making it far easier to take than Herceptin, which is administered intravenously.
On the AIDS front, Pfizer is waiting for the FDA to rule on the first of a new class of HIV drugs. Maraviroc attacks early in the HIV infection process, hindering the virus' ability to enter healthy cells and co-opt their new hosts' machinery to churn out HIV. And if you are one of the 40 million Americans who toss and turn every night, Merck may provide some relief later this year. The company is ready to submit its latest data on gaboxadol, an insomnia treatment that could prove less addictive than some existing prescription sleep remedies. Gaboxadol works on a set of sleep receptors in the brain that could help patients get to sleep faster and stay slumbering longer. Sweet dreams.
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