PHARMACY

Costco CFO: Pharmacy prices to drop off due to generics

BY Alaric DeArment

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Costco Wholesale EVP, CFO and director Richard Galanti told investors during the company’s third quarter 2011 earnings call last week that average prices in pharmacy probably would decline due to the introduction of generic versions of branded drugs.

“[The] only area where you are going to see some average price declines is probably in pharmacy where, and we’ve all read about it, there is some very well-known branded items that are going to become generic this coming year,” Galanti said.

Analysts have long predicted that the loss of patent protection for several branded drugs over the next few years, often known as the patent cliff, will lead to widespread commoditization of the pharmaceutical market.

The Issaquah, Wash.-based retailer reported third-quarter sales of $20.2 billion, compared with $17.4 billion in third quarter 2010, as well as profits of $324 million, compared with $306 million the year before.

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Taro reports rise in Q1 sales

BY Allison Cerra

HAWTHORNE, N.Y. — Taro realized a 21% increase in net sales for its first quarter, the drug maker said.

The company said it raked in net sales of $107.7 million, an increase of $18.7 million. Diluted earnings per share totaled 58 cents, compared with 21 cents in the prior-year period.

Operating income for Taro increased 84.4% to $33.4 million, or 31% of net sales, compared with $18.1 million, or 20.3% of net sales, in 2010.

During the period, Taro received three abbreviated new drug applications from the Food and Drug Administration.

"While continual progress is being made, our focus is to ensure that this improvement is sustainable," Taro’s interim CEO Jim Kedrowski said. "Considerable effort will continue to be concentrated on improving our processes to deliver quality products on time and [to] build our pipeline, through [research and development], in order to meet the growing customer demand. As the Taro management team moves the company forward, the progress in our performance is expected to be consistent and gradual."

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GDM risk can be assessed prior to pregnancy

BY Allison Cerra

OAKLAND, Calif. — A woman’s risk of developing a type of diabetes typically caused by pregnancy can be identified up to seven years prior to becoming pregnant, according to a new study by Kaiser Permanente.

The study, part of Kaiser Permanente’s ongoing research to understand, prevent and treat gestational diabetes mellitus, found that routinely assessing blood sugar and body weight measures can provide women with insight on their risk of developing GDM.

By examining data taken from 580 ethnically diverse women who took part in a multiphasic health checkup at Kaiser Permanente Northern California between 1984 and 1996, researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research found that the risk of GDM directly increased when a number of adverse risk factors commonly associated with diabetes and heart disease (i.e., high blood sugar, hypertension and being overweight) were present before pregnancy.

What’s more, the study authors found that adverse levels of blood sugar and body weight were associated with a 4.6 times increased risk of GDM, compared with women with normal levels.

"Our study indicates that a woman’s cardio-metabolic risk profile for factors routinely assessed at medical visits, such as blood sugar, high blood pressure, cholesterol and body weight, can help clinicians identify high-risk women to target for primary prevention or early management of GDM," said lead author Monique Hedderson, a research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research.

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