Company news

June 2, 2010

Eli Lilly and Co. is a likely suitor for two cancer drug developers, according to unnamed sources interviewed by The Financial Times. The Indianapolis-based drugmaker has made cancer its most intense area of new drug investment—as have many of its peers. The company was outbid last year for Gloucester Pharmaceuticals, which was scooped up by New Jersey-based Celgene Corp. Now, industry insiders believe Lilly will bid for Gloucester’s competitor in the race to develop the next lung cancer drug, Colorado-based Allos Therapeutics Inc. Also, Lilly is a likely bidder for Washington-based Seattle Genetics Inc., which is developing drugs to treat leukemia and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

With funding still spotty for medical and biotech startups, a huge amount of attention is focusing on Qualified Therapeutic Discovery Project Credits, which will award $1 billion in tax breaks to small companies developing products that help diagnose, treat or prevent illnesses. Each business can receive a credit for as much of half its investment into qualified research and testing of its products, according to a description of the act by Bingham McHale, an Indianapolis law firm hoping to win clients by helping them apply. The credit will be paid in cash if a company has little to no tax liability. Only companies that have 250 or fewer employees (of any type) can receive the credits.

Roche Diagnostics won approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its test of antibodies that build up to fight the hepatitis C virus in human fluids. The Elecsys Anti-HCV can be performed on certain models of Roche Diagnostics’ Cobas and Modular Analytics machines. In April, Roche received FDA clearance for another immunoassay in its infectious-disease portfolio, Rubella IgM. Roche Diagnostics operates its North American business out of Indianapolis.

Michiana Health Information Network has added Elkhart General Healthcare System to its health information exchange service. Doctors in Elkhart can now receive electronic copies of medical records and laboratory results from Elkhart General Hospital quickly and without the privacy issues of e-mail. Once fully implemented, all Elkhart physicians with electronic health records will have the ability to instantly receive hospital reports, laboratory results and radiology reports directly into their EHR systems. Michiana Health Information Network, established in 1999, includes more than 3,200 community health care professionals in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan.

In its latest response to withering criticism of its breast-cancer policies, WellPoint Inc. started Tuesday to pay for all breast cancer patients to stay two days in a hospital after mastectomy surgery. Some states already require insurers to cover hospital stays of 48 hours if the patient and her doctor wanted that much time for recovery after mastectomy surgery. But Indiana requires payment only for a 24-hour stay. Now, WellPoint will make the 48-hour policy standard for its customers in any state. Indianapolis-based WellPoint has been under fire since a Reuters article in April said the company uses a computer algorithm to target breast cancer patients for cancellation of their policies. WellPoint has repeatedly called the article’s claims “inaccurate and grossly misleading.” But the article provided the basis for sharp criticism of WellPoint from President Obama, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and dozens of members of Congress.