Good afternoon, I’m Selina McKee and here are the daily news headlines on Thursday 7th December.

A new drug development pathway including faster uptake of cost-effective medicines, conditional licensing of new drugs at the end of Phase II trials, and earlier engagement by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence in the development process were among the recommendations in a comprehensive review of UK health research funding published yesterday.

One of Sir David’s key recommendations was establishing an Office for Strategic Co-ordination of Health Research to serve as an umbrella agency for the Medical Research Counctil and a consolidated version of the new National Institute of Health Research.

In other news, Merck & Co has predicted earnings per share in the $2.48-$2.52 range for 2006, rising to $2.51-$2.59 next year excluding restructuring charges, a forecast that analysts had predicted.

The group says the rise in next year’s earnings will be driven by “continued growth in newer franchises,” including the vaccines Gardasil for cervical cancer, Rotateq for preventing childhood diarrhoea and Zostavax, which targets the virus that causes shingles, as well as its new diabetes drug Januvia.

That’s all from me today, please tune in again tomorrow for more industry headlines.