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Court rules against Merck in Nasonex patent case

BY Allison Cerra

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. — Merck announced that the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey ruled against the company in a patent infringement suit against Canada-based drug maker Apotex.

The patent at issue in this case — U.S. Patent No. 6,127,353 — covers mometasone furoate monohydrate, the active ingredient in Nasonex. The patent provides exclusivity for this form of mometasone until April 3, 2018. Apotex is seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to sell a generic version of Nasonex. The court ruled that while the patent is valid, the release of Apotex’s product would not infringe on the patent.

"While we are pleased with the court’s ruling that the patent for Nasonex is valid, we are disappointed the court ruled that this patent would not be infringed by the Apotex product. We believe the patent for Nasonex in the United States is valid and would be infringed by the Apotex product," Merck EVP and general counsel Bruce Kuhlik said. "Today’s decision reflects just one step in the lengthy patent litigation process, and we plan to review all of our options, including a likely appeal of the decision."


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More consumers plan to boost spending during BTS season

BY Allison Cerra

LOS ANGELES — Nearly half of U.S. shoppers plan to spend more this back-to-school shopping season than in 2011, according to a recent PriceGrabber survey.

The survey pooled responses from 4,450 U.S. online shopping consumers, with 1,509 of the respondents planning to shop this back-to-school season. Of the respondents planning to shop this BTS season, 46% said they plan to spend more this year than in 2011, while 35% said they plan to spend the same amount, compared with 52% that expressed this sentiment in 2011 and 19% are looking to spend less this year, compared with 35% in 2011.

When it comes to when consumers plan to begin shopping for back to school, PriceGrabber found that 17% of consumers plan to start their back-to-school shopping in June, 35% plan to start shopping in July, 44% noted August and 3% said September. Similar to last year, shoppers still plan to spread out their back-to-school purchases in order to distribute the cost over a longer time period. According to PriceGrabber survey data, 55% of consumers plan to spread out their back-to-school purchases this year.

"From last year’s holiday shopping season through the middle of 2012, we have seen consumers starting to shop earlier surrounding major shopping seasons and holidays, and we expect this trend to continue this back-to-school shopping season," PriceGrabber general manager Graham Jones said. "While PriceGrabber survey data reveals that many consumers are planning to spend more money this back-to-school shopping season, a few are still hesitant about spending, leading shoppers to search for deals even earlier to take advantage of retailer incentives and discounts, such as free shipping, coupons and sales."

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Indies continue to trump chains on service

BY Rob Eder

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — One area in which independent pharmacies always had the chains beat was in service — that is, if you believe any of those pesky consumer surveys.

(THE NEWS: White paper: Independent pharmacist recommendations drive sharper growth across certain OTCs. For the full story, click here)

In general, people tend to give indie pharmacists higher mark on such things as advice and consultations, and even product recommendations. That it is reflected in sales numbers is not surprising — first aid remedies versus bandages is a strong illustration.

But as Bob Dylan sang, "The Times They Are A-Changing," or at least they better be. The big drug chains are making investments to get pharmacists and health experts closer to patients. They all acknowledge that in the future, community pharmacy needs to be more than just filling scripts. The drug store of the future will be a place you go not just for products but for services, particularly of the health-and-wellness variety. Walgreens and Rite Aid are putting iPads in the hands of wellness experts (they each call them something else) to amp up the service. Walgreens has reconfigured the pharmacy so the pharmacist sits out in the middle of the healthcare quadrant of the store — it’s as though pharmacy is now one of the three main rings. In Indianapolis, the first market Walgreens converted to its new Well Experience stores, one pharmacy manager started a healthy baby program called Weight Check Wednesdays. Now Walgreens is going to roll the Wellness Experience into downtown Philadelphia.

What do you think? Will the chains ever outdo the indies on service? Post your comments below.

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