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Express Scripts preparing for network without Walgreens

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Express Scripts is readying for a pharmacy network without Walgreens, according to an analyst report published Thursday.

Credit Suisse analyst Edward Kelly reported that Express Scripts issued a letter to clients on Monday encouraging those clients to begin pushing prescriptions to alternative pharmacies. "While this is the next logical step in this very public negotiation, it supports our view that a near-term resolution is unlikely and suggests that the possibility of no deal (while still low) is increasing," Kelly wrote.

The crux of the issue may come down to regulatory approval of the Express Scripts/Medco merger. If approved, that provides Express Scripts significantly more scale, enough so that any migration of prescriptions out of Walgreens’ pharmacies could have a material impact, Kelly noted. "For now, Walgreens remains steadfast on its terms, but we believe the company will eventually be forced to make concessions as the loss of [Express Scripts] (before even considering Medco) could pressure Walgreens’ earnings by 20%."

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Fresh & Easy seeks to expand workforce

BY Allison Cerra

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Tesco’s U.S. subsidiary Fresh & Easy said it’s looking to fill more than 100 employee positions, including positions for four new California stores, the company announced Thursday.

Over the next several weeks, Fresh & Easy will open four new stores, which will be located in Los Angeles, Anaheim Hills, Calif., and Sunnyvale, Calif.

“We are pleased to continue to bring good jobs with affordable and comprehensive benefits to even more neighborhoods throughout California,” Fresh & Easy CEO Tim Mason said. “We pride ourselves in being a great place to work and we are consistently striving to create a culture in which people look forward to coming into work each day.”

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NexMed gains FDA approval of Tolnaftate-D

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN DIEGO — NexMed USA on Thursday received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to market the company’s first over-the-counter antifungal drug, Tolnaftate-D.

NexMed USA’s Tolnaftate-D incorporates NexACT, a proprietary drug delivery technology that transiently loosens the tight junction between the cells of the sealed skin to allow more permeation.

"This is the first approval by the FDA of a drug containing Apricus Bio’s NexAct drug delivery technology, and as such, is a very important milestone for us," said Bassam Damaj, chairman, president and CEO of Apricus Bio, NexMed USA’s parent company. "In particular, we believe this is a crucial validation of our technology. Our expectation is that this may represent just the first of many such OTC drugs containing our proprietary technology."

The active ingredient in the cleared OTC drug, tolnaftate, already is an approved antifungal agent, which can be sold as a cream, powder, spray or liquid aerosol, and is currently used to treat jock itch, athlete’s foot and ringworm. With the approval of this drug, DDAIP, the mainstay of the company’s NexAct technology, now is listed as an excipient in an approved drug and is part of the U.S. monograph. As such, DDAIP can be combined with active ingredients listed in the monograph to develop a greater number of OTC products.

"We have been working on obtaining such status for over eight months and we believe that the cleared antifungal drug containing DDAIP and tolnaftate may be the first of many such OTC drugs that we and our partners will market and sell," Damaj said. "In addition, being added to the monograph permits us to work with other companies in developing combinations of our NexAct technology with the potentially hundreds of active ingredients listed in the monograph and to develop their proprietary drugs using NexAct at the concentration used in our approved Tolnaftate-D OTC drug."

 

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