PHARMACY

Benicar reduces blood pressure in hypertension, diabetes patients

BY Alaric DeArment

PARSIPPANY, N.J. An investigational treatment made by Daiichi Sankyo for hypertension significantly lowers blood pressure in patients with hard-to-treat hypertension and diabetes, according to results of a late-stage clinical trial presented at a scientific meeting Monday.

The Japanese drug maker said at the 70th annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association in Orlando, Fla., that the single-pill triple combination of Benicar (olmesartan medoxomil), amlodipine and hydrochlorothiazide in the respective 40 mg, 10 mg and 25 mg strengths resulted in a statistically significant reduction in blood pressure compared with Benicar and hydrochlorothiazide or amlodipine and hydrochlorothiazide. Amlodipine, which Pfizer sells under the brand name Norvasc, and hydrochlorothiazide are widely available as generics.

The phase 3 trial, called “TRINITY,” enrolled 2,492 patients, of whom 15.5% had hypertension and diabetes. Of those taking the triple combination, 41% experienced reductions in blood pressure, compared with 10% and 16% of those in the two-drug combination groups. The triple combination was well tolerated, with side effects described as mild to moderate in severity, Daiichi Sankyo said.

“In addition to taking medications to treat high blood pressure, patients with diabetes often need to take several other medications to ensure glucose and cholesterol levels also are within recommended target levels,” University of Alabama medical professor Suzanne Oparil said in a statement on behalf of Daiichi Sankyo. “Therefore, having a blood pressure-lowering treatment option that combines three medications into one pill will likely help patients take all of their medications as prescribed.”

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PHARMACY

Former Johnson & Johnson head dies at 94

BY Allison Cerra

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. A former leader of one of the largest health conglomerates in the world died Friday at 94.

Richard Sellars rose from junior salesman to chairman of the board and CEO during a career that spanned 40 years at Johnson & Johnson. Sellars joined Johnson & Johnson’s sales force in 1939, and began a rapid rise within two of the company’s major affiliates, Ortho Pharmaceutical Corp. and Ethicon. He became president of the company in 1970, and chairman of the board one year later. In 1973, he became chairman and CEO, a position he held until his retirement from that post in 1976. From then until his retirement in 1979, Sellars served as chairman of Johnson & Johnson’s finance committee. One of his many accomplishments while at Johnson & Johnson was being part of the New Brunswick Tomorrow project to revitalize the city that held the company’s headquarters.

“Richard Sellars was an inspirational leader who filled all who met him with a deep sense of the company’s responsibility to its customers, employees, community and shareholders,” said William Weldon, chairman and CEO, Johnson & Johnson. “He will be missed.”

Sellars is survived by his wife, Doris, four children, nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

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Gilead to acquire CGI

BY Alaric DeArment

FOSTER CITY, Calif. Gilead Sciences plans to acquire a development-stage pharmaceutical company for up to $120 million, Gilead said Friday.

Privately held CGI Pharmaceuticals has developed a library of drugs that have potential to treat inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. The majority of the $120 million will be an upfront payment, and the remaining will be based on clinical development progress, Gilead said.

“The acquisition of CGI represents a unique opportunity to expand our research efforts in an interesting and promising area of drug discovery,” Gilead EVP research and development and chief scientific officer Norbert Bischofberger said.

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