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AstraZeneca, Rigel get green light for licensing partnership

BY Alaric DeArment

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. A licensing agreement between AstraZeneca and Rigel Pharmaceuticals for a rheumatoid arthritis treatment has gone into effect, following the expiration of the waiting period required by the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, Rigel announced Monday.

The expiration of the waiting period makes Rigel eligible for a payment of $100 million from the Anglo-Swedish drug maker, under terms of a deal the two companies entered whereby AstraZeneca will gain development and sales rights to Rigel’s arthritis drug R788 (fostamatinib disodium). The drug recently completed phase 2 clinical trials.

AstraZeneca also will receive exclusive rights to other Rigel drugs, as well as additional uses for R788. Rigel will receive up to $345 million in milestone payments and up to $800 million in royalties.

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Survey notes rise in MP3 player usage while driving

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK Drug stores should get involved in the consumer electronics game, as the number of people who listen to an iPod or MP3 player continues to rise.

According to a survey of 1,753 people ages 12 years and older, 24% of people have listened to music devices while connected to a car stereo, survey conductors from Arbitron and Edison Research revealed. Additionally, the new national study showed that 44% of all Americans ages 12 years and older own an iPod or MP3 player. Among that group, 54% have connected their players for listening in the car.

“The car is clearly a crucial battleground for people’s attention, and our study shows that most of those who do listen in this fashion do so more than once a week,” said Larry Rosin, Edison Research president.

This is the 18th in a series of studies Arbitron and Edison have conducted since 1998 on topics relating to the Internet and new media.

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FTC clears Walgreens’ acquisition of Duane Reade

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens has received regulatory clearance from the Federal Trade Commission needed to acquire Duane Reade, the drug store chain announced Tuesday.

“We’re clear to move forward and complete the Duane Reade acquisition, which will immediately give Walgreens a leading position in the nation’s largest drug store market,” said Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson. “We look forward to combining the strengths of our two companies to best serve our customers in the New York metropolitan area and the many communities we serve nationwide, while also creating real value for our shareholders.”

Last month, Walgreens signed a definitive agreement under which Walgreens will acquire Duane Reade from affiliates of Oak Hill Capital Partners. In the cash transaction, Walgreens will acquire all 257 Duane Reade drug stores in the New York metropolitan area, as well as the corporate office and two distribution centers.

Walgreens expects to complete the acquisition in early to mid-April.

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