The latest technology and life sciences news in WRALTechWire’s Bulldog Bulletin roundup:
- Biogen Idec MS drug approved in Europe
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Tecfidera, a new multiple sclerosis drug from Biogen Idec (NASDAQ:BIIB), has received approval from European regulators.
The European Commission approved the pill as a first-line treatment for people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, the most common form of MS. Cambridge, Mass.-based Biogen, which manufactures two other MS drugs at its Research Triangle Park plant, said it will begin to introduce Tecfidera in Europe in coming weeks.
The Food and Drug Administration approved Tecfidera for the U.S. market last March. It was subsequently approved Canada and Australia. Tecfidera the fourth MS drug in Biogen’s portfolio. The drug is also in line to become Biogen’s latest blockbuster drug. In 2013, Tecfidera accounted for $876 million in sales, according to financial results the company released last week.
- Internet firms release data on NSA spy requests
WASHINGTON – Freed by a recent legal deal with government lawyers, major Internet firms are releasing new data on how often they are ordered to turn over customer information for secret national security investigations.
Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook and LinkedIn on Monday all unveiled new figures for the first six months of 2013.
The releases offer details about government requests to show that only small numbers of their customers were targeted by authorities during counter terrorism and other intelligence-related investigations. Still, the small numbers indicated that the government collected data from thousands of Americans.
As the tech companies provided what they described as greater transparency, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith scolded the U.S. and allied governments for failing to renounce the reported mass interception of Internet data carried by communications cables.
- NBC hopes free pass will help TV Everywhere
NEW YORK – NBC is using the Olympics to push interest in technology allowing cable or satellite TV subscribers to see live Winter Olympics competition on mobile phones or tablets.
The network said Monday it will give subscribers a 30-minute “free pass” to Olympics video before they are asked to verify that they are paying customers. On subsequent days, the access will be limited to five minutes before verification.
“It’s a big step forward for the industry,” said Rick Cordella, NBC Sports’ senior vice president for digital distribution. “I think it will engage a lot of people.”
The industry’s TV Everywhere initiative is an attempt to prevent cable and satellite customers to defect to streaming services like Netflix by letting them watch programming on mobile devices. The idea has been slow to take hold, however, because different system operators and networks offer different shows to stream. There has been little rush to offer live programming because it hasn’t been included in the Nielsen ratings, but that will soon change.
- FDA approves pill camera to screen colon
WASHINGTON – A kinder, gentler approach to one of the most dreaded exams in medicine is on the way: U.S. regulators have cleared a bite-size camera to help screen the large intestine of patients who have trouble with colonoscopies.
The ingestible pill camera from Given Imaging is designed to help doctors spot polyps and other early signs of colon cancer. The Food and Drug Administration cleared the device for patients who have had trouble with the cringe-inducing procedure, which involves probing the colon using a tiny camera on a four-foot long, flexible tube.
The Israeli company’s technology, developed from missile defense systems, uses a battery-powered camera to take high-speed photos as it slowly winds its way through the intestinal tract over eight hours. The images are transmitted to a recording device worn around the patient’s waist and later reviewed by a doctor.