Laredo Morning Times
Wednesday, August 2, 2000
FDA approves new diabetes drug
BY PHIL GALEWITZ AP Business Writer NEW YORK — The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved BristolMyers Squibb’s new diabetes drug Glucovance, which may help patients control their blood sugar better than some existing pills. The approval comes at an opportune moment for BristolMyers, which next month will lose patent protection on its top diabetes drug, Glucophage. The pill, with $1.3 billion in sales last year, is the company’s top selling medicine. Glucovance, which is a combination of Glucophage and a generic diabetes pill Metformin, is intended as a therapy for patients with Type 2 or adult onset diabetes. Analysts estimate Glucovance could generate annual sales of at least $900 million. A Bristol-Myers-funded study of 800 patients, presented at the American Diabetes Association meeting in June, found that Glucovance worked better at reducing patients blood sugar than either Glucophage or Metformin alone. The company did not conduct any tests of Glucovance against two newer diabetes drugs— SmithKline Beecham’s Avandia and Eli Lilly’s Actos. Lilly sells Actos in partnership with Japanese firm Takeda Pharmaceuticals. Over two-thirds of the patients in the study who received Glucovance achieved ADA recommended blood sugar goals. “Glucovance represents a new approach to managing type 2 diabetes,” said Richard J. Lane, president of Bristol-Myers’ worldwide medicines group. “It is our hope that the introduction of this novel agent could change the treatment paradigm for the more than 15 million patients in the U.S. with this condition.” The most common side effects of Glucovance are usually diarrhea, nausea, and upset stomach. Less frequently, symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) such as lightheadedness, dizziness, shakiness, or hunger may occur. In rare cases, Glucovance may cause lactic acidosis, which can be fatal in up to half of the cases. Lactic acidosis occurs mainly in people whose kidneys are not functioning properly. Patients should not take the drug if they have kidney problems, the company said.
Students say considering other bonfire
BY JUAN A. LOZANO Associated Press Writer COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Despite possible disciplinary action, a student group working to keep the Texas A&M University bonfire tradition alive is considering building a log stack off campus this fall. Hoping to halt a renegade bonfire, however, Texas A&M University Vice President for Student Affairs J. Malon Southerland warned students Monday of possible punishments if they proceed with plans for the off-campus bonfire. The 90-year-tradition is on hold for two years after last year’s deadly collapse that killed 12 Aggies. Monday afternoon, two members of the student group Keep the Fire Burning met privately with Southerland for about one hour to discuss their efforts to organize an off-campus bonfire. After the meeting, Joe Dyson, one of the group’s board members, said his organization is only investigating the possibility of holding a safe bonfire off campus. “Yes we are looking at all the facets of what it would take to do a safe bonfire,” Dyson said. “But that’s not to say we are doing a bonfire.” Keep the Fire Burning has been talking to engineers, security companies, fire safety officials and lawyers about an off-campus bonfire. The 2 million pound bonfire stack collapsed during construction on Nov. 18. Twelve Aggies died and 27 others were injured, some severely. The bonfire event annually draws thousands of Aggies to the College Station campus on the eve of A&M’s football game against its archrival, the University of Texas. In May, a five-member commission appointed and funded by Texas A&M to investigate the deaths blamed flawed construction techniques and a lack of adequate supervision of students assembling the stack. In June, A&M President Ray Bowen announced the 90-year bonfire tradition would continue, but not until at least 2002 and not without major changes, including far greater university supervision and a professionally engineered design. Dyson said he believed a safe off campus bonfire could be built because the group would utilize the resources of one of the best engineering programs in the state. But when asked how the group would improve the flawed construction techniques the five-member commission said contributed to last year’s collapse, Dyson said he didn’t know how the university in the past had utilized its resources when it came to designing the bonfire stack. Dyson said his organization was going to poll students to see whether they would support an off campus bonfire this year. If students say no to the idea, the group would drop its plans. “It’s the students bonfire,” Dyson said. “The students run the bonfire. The students have continued the bonfire. The tradition of bonfire is not a structure. It is not something we burn. It’s the building of leadership.”