PHARMACY

Biogen Idec introduces Women in MS educational initiative

BY Allison Cerra

WESTON, Mass. — Biogen Idec is looking to address the advantages and challenges female clinicians experience in treating patients living with multiple sclerosis through a new educational initiative.

"Women in MS," the drug maker said, will includes a series of local seminars held throughout 2011 that feature female healthcare professionals at the forefront of MS research and treatment, as well as a mentor matching service to enable ongoing participant networking. The inaugural seminar took place Tuesday in Seattle and was broadcast live to venues in Seattle, San Diego, Los Angeles and Phoenix.

"The goal of the ‘Women in MS’ initiative is to identify gender-related communication gaps and unmet resource needs, and [to] provide opportunities for clinicians to begin developing and initiating solutions," said Nancy Richert, senior fellow at Biogen Idec. "As a leader in MS treatment for more than 15 years, we are proud to be partnering with treating clinicians on this unique initiative to help drive excellence in MS care."

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PHARMACY

Watson acquires Specifar

BY Alaric DeArment

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — Watson Pharmaceuticals has acquired Greek drug maker Specifar Pharmaceuticals for $562 million, the two companies said Wednesday.

Watson said that through the acquisition, it had gained a leading generic product development company that develops and out-licenses products throughout the world, while also enhancing its commercial presence in Europe.

In addition, Watson said, acquiring Specifar would give it a branded-generic presence in Greece’s pharmaceutical market. Specifar is among the top five companies in the Greek branded-generic market.

“We are very pleased that Specifar has become part of our global organization,” Watson president and CEO Paul Bisaro said. “We look forward to working with the management team to continue Specifar’s growth and to expand the opportunities for success within Watson.”

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FDA issues warnings to online retailers making ‘unsubstantiated claims’ about tobacco products

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration sent 11 warning letters last week to online retailers selling tobacco products that claimed to reduce the harm and risk of tobacco-related disease.

The FDA said Wednesday that the retailers had illegally marketed tobacco products that used such terms as “light,” “low,” “mild,” “less toxic” and “safer” — terms that the agency deems misleading and unsubstantiated.

“There is no known safe tobacco product,” FDA Center for Tobacco Products director Lawrence Deyton said. “It is illegal for tobacco companies or retailers, including Internet sellers, to make unsubstantiated claims or statements that imply tobacco products reduce health risks.”

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