Archive > April 2009

Raptia: Serious Infections and Neurological Events

admin » 27 April 2009 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

Raptia: Serious Infections and Neurological Events

FDA is highlighting the risk of life-threatening infections in patients treated with Raptiva (efalizumab). Raptiva is an immunosuppressant approved as a once a week injection to treat certain adult patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.

FDA has received reports of serious infections in patients treated with Raptiva, in some cases leading to hospitalization and even death. A new boxed warning will highlight the risk of bacterial sepsis, viral meningitis, invasive fungal disease, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) and other opportunistic infections.

Serious Infections and Neurological Events with Raptiva

Raptiva’s label will also be updated to include data from studies of juvenile mice. These data suggest that repeated administration of Raptiva to pediatric patients may lead to permanent suppression of the immune system. Raptiva is not approved for children under 18 years of age.

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Cuil has disappeared from view

admin » 23 April 2009 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

Cuil has disappeared from view

Remember Cuil, the Silicon Valley startup that was going to challenge Google Inc. as the world’s leading search engine?

Apparently not many people do.

The stealth company burst into view at the end of July 2008 as a serious challenger to Google.

cuil

Taking its name from the Gaelic word for knowledge, Cuil’s (pronounced cool) search engine launched with an initial hefty index of 120 billion Web pages from which to browse.

Cuil’s co-founders also have serious street cred. Chief Executive Tom Costello is an ex-IBMer and was on the research faculty at Stanford University, where he got his PhD. His wife, President Anna Patterson, another brainiac with a PhD, was the architect of Google’s large search index, TeraGoogle, still in use today. She also worked with the Internet Archive, the non-profit digital library of Web sites.

After the first flurry of news reports on the launch of Cuil, site traffic soared to more than 2 million unique visitors in July, according to Compete.com. One month later, though, traffic dropped by half. By September, Cuil had 400,000 unique visitors and in March, 140,000 visitors.

So what happened? At the time of the launch, the company’s servers were unable to handle the crush. Its servers crashed and returned a message saying Cuil could not return results because of excessive loads. This alienated some users at the get-go, who would never return.

That wasn’t the only problem.

“They just didn’t have very good results,” said Danny Sullivan, editor-in-chief of SearchEngineLand.com. “They have a really huge challenge now, because they came out with all this publicity.”

No popularity contest

Cuil says that it’s different from Google because it does not return searches ranked by popularity. Instead, its searches analyze the context of each page, the company says, with a unique algorithm. Cuil also is focused on user privacy, versus Google, which has sometimes been referred to as Big Brother. Cuil does not retain a user’s search history.

“The thing people say about us in our feedback form is that we are fun,” Patterson said in an e-mail. “We bring up other topics, we make it easy to learn about a topic you might not know much about. We bring up images from the pages so that you remember what that hotel looked like, we bring up timelines if you are thinking about researching a topic.”

The company operates on a lean budget, with less than 30 employees, but it does not yet have revenue coming into its coffers. Cuil is talking to potential partners. It has about $33 million in venture funding, which executives believe can last the company a few years.

But Cuil’s investors must be nervous about the sharp decline in traffic since the much-hyped launch. To be fair, the initial hype also came from the press.
One investor is Madrone Partners, the venture firm that manages the investments of Wal-Mart heirs. Greg Penner, a general partner with Madrone who sits on Cuil’s board, is also on the board of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

“We all are taking a long-term view,” Patterson went on to say, adding that Cuil’s growth in the last two quarters is “starting off great again.”
“Trends that you can see with Google Trends but not with Compete,” she added.

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The Daily Left – 6 Bush Officials to be Indicted in Spain

admin » 16 April 2009 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

The Daily Left – 6 Bush Officials to be Indicted in Spain

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Mike Papantonio: In Cramer We Trust?

admin » 16 April 2009 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

Mike Papantonio: In Cramer We Trust?

CNBC’s Jim Cramer being taken to task for his careless financial advice is the result of a larger problem with traditional media. Rather than investigating and reporting, they simply take talking points from corporations and spout them off as legitimate reporting. Mike Papantonio talks about how these financial pundits have bankrupted the economy, as well as the entire journalism profession.

In Cramer We Trust?

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Raptiva Infection Lawsuit Filed in California After Recall

admin » 13 April 2009 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

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Raptiva Infection Lawsuit Filed in California After Recall

A complaint was filed last week in California on behalf of a three psoriasis patients who allegedly suffered serious side effects of Raptiva. The lawsuit was filed on April 9, 2009, the day after Genentech announced that they were issuing a Raptiva recall in the United States due to an increased risk of infections associated with use of the medication.

The Raptiva lawsuit was filed in Alameda Superior Court on behalf of three individuals who suffered serious brain infections and related injuries which they indicate were caused by their use of Raptiva, a once-weekly injection used to treat moderate to severe psoriasis.

The first plaintiff, Mary Hedrick, developed a brain infection known as herpes viral encephalitis, which has resulted in permanent nervous system and brain damage. The second plaintiff, Shirley Boxell, filed a complaint on behalf of her 26-year-old daughter, Megan, who died of a brain infection. The third plaintiff, Bruce Harwell, alleged that he suffered severe leucopenia from Raptiva.

In October 2008, the FDA required Genetech to add a “black box” warning about possible Raptiva infection side effects, such as viral meningitis, invasive fungal disease, bacterial sepsis and a fatal brain infection known as progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, commonly referred to as PML.

On February 19, 2009, a statement was released by the FDA confirming that one possible and three confirmed cases of Raptiva PML infections have been identified. At least three of those patients have died.

Last week, on April 8, 2009, Genentech agreed to issue a phased recall of Raptiva, asking physicians to stop prescribing the medication. They indicated that the drug will no longer be available in the United States by June 2009, because the risk of patients developing fatal brain infections outweighs the benefits provided by the medication.

A number of product liability lawyers are reviewing potential Raptiva infection lawsuits, but the litigation is not expected to involve a substantial number of claims.

At the time of the recall, Raptiva was only being used by about 2,000 people in the United States, and it had only been used by 46,000 people worldwide since it was first introduced in 2003.

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Firm urges US to follow regulatory reforms

admin » 13 April 2009 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

Firm urges US to follow regulatory reforms

US-based international law firms face a future as subsidiaries to English firms unless the US adopts English-style regulatory reforms, according to the chief executive of a firm operating in 46 US states.

Michael Skoler, of The Law Offices of James Sokolove Law, said that the US’s 50 state bars must amend their rules in reaction to the opportunities that the Legal Services Act 2007 presents to English firms.

‘It is imperative that US firms change. If they do not, they will be hampered in their ability to compete globally and will wind up being subsidiaries of UK firms that have access to capital investment,’ he said.

‘Access to capital allows firms to compete more in terms of acquisitions and attracting new hires.’

Apart from in Washington DC, non-lawyers cannot own equity in US law firms, Skoler said. However, despite resistance from the traditionally conservative legal sector, he said that English-style changes could be introduced across the Atlantic in as little as five years.

In the meantime, he said, US firms based in the UK would have to become separate entities from their American headquarters in order to take advantage of the Legal Services Act.

However, one legal business expert described Skoler’s prediction as ‘highly questionable’. Giles Rubens, specialist law firm adviser at business consultancy Hildebrandt, pointed out that two-thirds of the world’s 200 international law firms are American. Even if English law firms’ ability to attract outside investment places them at a competitive advantage, the model may not be exportable, he said. ‘There is a great deal of complexity in the UK changes that is still to be fully explored, and which raises all sorts of questions for international firms.’

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Psoriasis Drug Raptiva Pulled From U.S. Market

admin » 09 April 2009 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

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Psoriasis Drug Raptiva Pulled From U.S. Market

Drug manufacturer acts after link found to rare brain infection

WEDNESDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) — The troubled psoriasis drug Raptiva is being withdrawn from the U.S. market, California-based drug maker Genentech ( DNA – news – people ) announced Wednesday.

The move comes almost two months after U.S. health officials issued a public health advisory on the drug after confirming a link to a rare, sometimes fatal brain infection.

In a prepared release, Genentech said Wednesday, “Effective immediately, physicians should not issue prescriptions for Raptiva for any new patients and should promptly contact patients currently receiving Raptiva to assess the most appropriate treatment alternatives. Raptiva will no longer be available after June 8, 2009.”

Genentech estimated that approximately 2,000 patients in the United States may currently be using Raptiva (efalizumab) for chronic plaque psoriasis. Since it was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2003, approximately 46,000 patients worldwide have been treated with Raptiva, the company said.

“Our decision to remove Raptiva from the market reflects Genentech’s commitment to patient safety,” said Dr. Hal Barron, Genentech’s senior vice president, development and chief medical officer. “Although we believe that many psoriasis patients are benefiting from Raptiva, the balance between benefit and risk in the psoriasis population for which Raptiva was approved has significantly changed.”

In February, an FDA advisory noted there had been three deaths of people taking the drug. Two involved people with confirmed cases of a rare brain infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). The third death was a person believed to have contracted the brain infection, according to the advisory.

All had been treated with Raptiva for at least three years, and none was taking other immune suppressants.

In its advisory, the FDA said it would study the issue carefully and “strongly recommends that health care professionals carefully monitor patients on Raptiva, as well as those who have discontinued the drug, for any signs or symptoms of neurologic disease, and that they periodically reassess the benefits of continued treatment.”

“Patients should be aware of the symptoms of PML and contact their health care professionals immediately if they experience any such symptoms,” the advisory recommended.

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Google Ups U.S. Search Share In March; Yahoo Crumbles

admin » 09 April 2009 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

Google Ups U.S. Search Share In March; Yahoo Crumbles

Google (GOOG) shares of the U.S. search market expanded in March to 72.39%, up from 72.11% in February and 67.28% a year ago, according to new data from research firm Hitwise. The bigger news might be the crumbling of Yahoo’s (YHOO) position: it had 16.36% share in the month, down from 17.04% in February and 20.30% a year ago.

Microsoft’s (MSFT) share slipped to 5.5%, from 5.56% in February, and 6.65% a year ago.

Market share at Ask.com (IACI) in the month was 4.07%, up from 3.74% in February, and down from 4.1% a year ago.

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Defective Chinese Drywall

admin » 08 April 2009 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

Defective Chinese Drywall

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Microsoft Online Still In Last Place After All These Years

admin » 07 April 2009 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

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Microsoft Online Still In Last Place After All These Years

Microsoft (MSFT) has finally started to take the Internet seriously, so the rest of the industry had better watch out–right?

Not exactly.

Microsoft has been taking the Internet seriously for 13 years now, since 1995. And despite having all the assets anyone could ever ask for–desktop monopoly, browser monopoly (for a while), fanatically competitive management, and a limitless mountain of cash–Microsoft’s still pretty much where it started: In distant 4th place.

After 13 years of “investment,” Microsoft’s online business is still incinerating cash, while all three of its major competitors, including the imploded AOL, are printing money.

How much has Microsoft “invested” over that period? More than $8 billion.

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