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Bristol-Myers Squibb buys Amylin for $5.3 billion

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Bristol-Myers Squibb is acquiring Amylin Pharmaceuticals, the drug maker said Friday.

Bristol announced that it would acquire Amylin for $5.3 billion, or $31 per share. The total value of the acquisition is about $7 billion, including $1.7 billion in Amylin’s contractual payment and debt obligations.

"Amylin’s innovative diabetes portfolio, talented people and state-of-the-art manufacturing facility complement our long-standing leadership in metabolic," Bristol CEO Lamberto Andreotti said. "We are pleased to be strengthen the portfolio we have built to help patients with diabetes by building on the success Amylin has had with its GLP-1 franchise." GLP-1 agonists are a class of drugs used to treat Type 2 diabetes.

The New York-based drug maker also said that it would expand a diabetes drug development deal with AstraZeneca that the companies entered in 2007. AstraZeneca will pay $3.4 billion to Amylin once the acquisition deal is complete. Together with former partner Eli Lilly, Amylin developed the Type 2 diabetes drugs Byetta (exenatide) and its long-acting form, Bydureon.


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HIV testing at pharmacies increases accessibility, but creates challenges as well

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Retail pharmacies have been offering testing for diseases ranging from high cholesterol to cancer for years, but offering HIV testing presents a whole new realm of possibilities and challenges.

(THE NEWS: Walgreens to provide free HIV testing in CDC pilot. For the full story, click here.)

On the one hand, HIV testing traditionally has taken place at physician offices and community health centers, but offering it at the pharmacy — not to mention a Food and Drug Administration panel’s recent endorsement of the over-the-counter availability of the OraQuick in-home HIV test — expands the range of services people can get with a simple walk to the neighborhood store.

At the same time, while any chronic disease tends to be a private and emotionally charged issue, HIV is especially so, considering the long history of stigmatization of people with the virus due in part to its frequent association with intravenous drug users, LGBT people and sex workers; United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki Moon has called stigmatization the single most important barrier to public action. In the gay community, for example, stigmatization has led to what many call a divide between HIV-positive and HIV-negative people, and one of the first questions encountered in gay chat rooms and on dating sites is "Are you clean?" while signs decrying HIV stigmatization were included at New York’s annual gay pride parade last month.

According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention article published in 2006, medical systems’ treatment of HIV as an "exceptional" disease has helped to feed stigma, resulting in infected people often not getting tested  until they’re already sick. That year, the CDC released revised recommendations to regard HIV/AIDS as a treatable disease, and one of the goals of the Walgreens-CDC pilot program is to reduce the stigma associated with the virus. Perhaps making HIV testing something people can do at the same place they buy cold medications, magazines and toothpaste rather than at a clinic can help make it seem more routine.

But if routine HIV testing is to become a common feature at retail pharmacies, there are some other considerations as well. In addition to anonymity, it’s important to provide services like prevention counseling and referrals, as well as counseling and emotional support for patients who test positive. Stigmatized or not, HIV remains a life-threatening and life-changing disease. According to the CDC article, while 70% of people tested at publicly funded sites received their results and test information, fewer received counseling or referrals, and the figures were even lower for people tested in private settings. The FDA Blood Products Advisory Committee also expressed concern about lack of access to counseling when recommending OTC approval of the OraQuick test. For this reason, it’s important that pharmacies be equipped to help HIV-negative patients stay that way and help HIV-positive patients overcome the emotional shock they may have.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Do you think HIV testing at drug stores will encourage more people to get tested or enhance the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS? Post your comments below.

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New Cold-Eeze Daytime/Nighttime QuickMelt tablets enter market

BY Allison Cerra

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. — ProPhase Labs has expanded its Cold-Eeze brand.

New Cold-Eeze cold remedy Daytime/Nighttime QuickMelt tablets are designed to shorten a cold, ProPhase Labs said. The Daytime QuickMelt tablets shorten one’s cold and are nondrowsy, while the Nighttime QuickMelt tablets are a combination product formulated to shorten a cold and also help users fall asleep faster and contain natural, extra-strength chamomile and melatonin. Each package comes with 18 Daytime QuickMelt tablets and six Nighttime QuickMelt tablets.

"Our new Cold-Eeze Daytime/Nighttime QuickMelts are an exciting new way to provide relief to our consumers," ProPhase Labs chairman and CEO Ted Karkus said. "Following the popularity of our Cold-Eeze lozenges and Cold-Eeze Oral Spray, we felt the next step was to offer our consumers a cold remedy product that provides nighttime relief. Retailers have responded positively and aggressively in accepting our new product introduction. Our QuickMelts will be sold through nearly all national retailers that carry our Cold-Eeze lozenges."


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