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Innovation rewarded at Prix Galien 2006

The 2006 UK Prix Galien sprung a surprise this year, with three companies awarded medals for pharmaceutical innovation. Pf reports on this year’s prestigious awards.

GSK and Novartis jointly took the main Prix Galien Award for Rotarix and Xolair respectively, while Genzyme’s Myozyme received a special Prix Galien medal as an orphan drug.

Prix Galien 2006

The prestigious award was presented by Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley MP, at a packed ceremony at the House of Commons. The 2006 competition saw a 40% increase in entrants from the previous ceremony in 2004. In fact, six of the 14 nominations were oncology treatments, reflecting the management of cancer as a key NHS priority.

The winners were announced by Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, Chairman of NICE and head of the Prix Galien judging panel. Professor Sir Michael began by acknowledging the achievements of all participants, and underlined the significance of the Prix Galien. “The Prix Galien is about honouring excellence in pharmaceutical research and development, and it is about recognising the contribution that new medicines make to the public health,” he said. “It represents a pinnacle of achievement for the men and women who are committed to curing disease and improving health by bringing us those medicines. The judging panel has been impressed by the creativity, innovation and scientific rigour that have gone into these new medicines. In their own way, every one of these medicines is having a significant impact on clinical practice in the NHS, and on the health and quality of life of thousands of patients.”

Special award for Orphan Drug

Genzyme earned its special Prix Galien medal for Myozyme, the first enzyme replacement therapy to target a neuromuscular disorder. Classified as an ultra orphan drug, Myozyme provides a treatment option for Pompe Disease. Orphan conditions affect a very small number of patients, and many are currently untreatable. Although they have a low prevalence, collectively orphan conditions create a significant health problem. It is estimated that around 6000 defined orphan diseases currently affect about 30 million EU citizens. For orphan diseases that are potentially treatable with medicines, pharmaceutical manufacturers face a number of complex problems, including concerns with regard to limitation within the market and length of time required to develop the compounds to commercial products.

“Genzyme has shown continued commitment to meeting unmet medical needs within the field of orphan diseases and the clear clinical improvement shown in patients affected by this devastating disease is a remarkable achievement,” said Professor Sir Michael. “Myozyme provides a treatment option for Pompe Disease, previously treated only in a palliative or supportive manner. This was an outstanding entry in a very difficult area.”

Rotarix and Xolair

As in 2004, the coveted main Prix Galien prize was awarded jointly to Rotarix and Xolair. GSK’s Rotarix, a live attenuated human rotavirus vaccine, offers a very high protection rate against severe rotavirus gastroenteritis. Rotavirus infects virtually every child in the first five years of life regardless of race or socioeconomic status.

“The panel was impressed that GlaxoSmithKline has overcome the safety issues associated with the development of earlier Rotavirus vaccines to produce a safe and effective vaccine tested in over 60,000 children worldwide,” said Professor Sir Michael.

“The heterotypic protection (against wild-type strains) as well as homotypic protection (against the vaccine strain) could greatly reduce morbidity and mortality associated with this disease, whilst being cost-saving to society.”

Prix Galien 2006

Xolair, developed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Ltd, is a first in class treatment specifically developed to target Immunoglobulin E (IgE), the underlying mediator of allergic response in severe persistent asthma. The panel praised the innovation demonstrated through Novartis’ novel targeting of IgE: “Xolair has shown very clear efficacy benefits for patients who have exhausted their therapeutic options and who are under constant threat of exacerbations,” said Professor Sir Michael.

The remaining nominations for the 2006 UK Prix Galien were:

Alimta (Oncology) Eli Lilly
Alvesco (Asthma) ALTANA Pharma UK
Aromasin (Oncology) Pfizer
Avastin (Oncology) Roche
Erbitux (Oncology) Merck Pharmaceuticals
Lyrica (DPN) Pfizer
Movicol Paediatric Plain (Laxative) Norgine
Moviprep (Bowel cleansing) Norgine
Protelos (Osteoporosis) Servier Laboratories
Tarceva (Oncology) Roche
Zevalin (Oncology) Schering Healthcare

The Prix Galien’s UK franchise is owned by The WG Group. For further information on the Prix Galien, visit www.wg-group.co.uk and click on Prix Galien.
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