This week's Top Biotech Bioethics News: Pfizer’s stem cell ventures, Eli Lilly’s DR payment disclosures, & Supreme Court Case Wyeth v. Levine's Preemption Temptation

Pfizer and Eli Lilly have been noteworthy with respect to their efforts to produce responsible innovations this week.  Pfizer is advancing responsible stem cell research by currently focusing on induced pluripotent stem cells (iPs) and Eli Lilly is setting a great example regarding industry disclosures and increased transparency.

  • Medical News Today reports, Pfizer, the world’s largest drug company, is getting into stem cell research to explore the potential of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells (where ordinary cells like those taken from adult skin are coaxed into behaving like embryonic stem cells). Pfizer hopes to build up a team of 50 to 60 scientists specializing in stem cell research, working to develop new stem cell therapies. They will collaborate with academics and the smaller biotech companies, which to date have led the field.  McNeish said that iPS cells will help Pfizer researchers “understand personalized medicine, genetic variation, ethnic populations, what biomarkers to follow”.  He said he hoped it will be possible one day to use compounds to coax stem cells in the body to repair injuries. For now, they will use them to help decide which drugs are likely to be safe, said the Reuters report.
  • RGJ reports, in an industry first, Eli Lilly and Co. said it will begin disclosing how much money it paid to individual doctors nationally for advice, speeches and other services.  The drug company’s move comes as members of Congress push a disclosure bill in an effort to prevent such payments from improperly influencing medical decisions. Beginning next year, Eli Lilly will disclose payments of more than $500 to doctors for their roles as advisers and for speaking at educational seminars. In later years, the company will expand the types of payments disclosed to include such things as travel, entertainment and gifts.

Of other interest, next month the Supreme Court will hear arguments for Wyeth v. Levine, pertaining to whether manufacturers complying with FDA stipulated warning requirements can be held liable under state tort law for not supplying adequate warnings. click here to continue reading.