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FDA approves new formulation of HIV treatment drug

BY Alaric DeArment

ABBOTT PARK, Ill. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new formulation of an anti-retroviral drug for treating HIV made by Abbott, the drug maker announced.

The FDA approved a tablet form of the drug Norvir (ritonavir) in the 100 mg strength. The tablets, meant for use in combination with other anti-retroviral drugs to treat HIV, can be stored at room temperature and do not require refrigeration. The soft-gel capsule and liquid forms of the drug will remain available in the United States.

“Norvir has been a critical component of HIV treatment for many patients,” Abbott divisional VP infections disease development Scott Brun said in a statement. “The innovation behind the development of the Norvir tablet is the direct result of years of effort by Abbott scientists to address the needs of people living with HIV.”

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CVS extends reach to Puerto Rico

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS/pharmacy has entered Puerto Rico with its first two locations slated to officially open Feb. 15. The company plans to open nine stores on the island in 2010.

“We are pleaded to introduce the CVS/pharmacy brand to the growing Puerto Rico market,” stated Larry Merlo, president of CVS/pharmacy. “CVS is committed to provided high quality pharmacy care and offering convenient products and services at a great value to the Puerto Rican community.”

The openings will create about 400 new jobs in Puerto Rico this year. In addition to the new stores opening this month in San Juan and Bayamon, more locations are expected to open this year in Arecibo, Bayamon (two additional stores), Dorado, Fajardo, Vega Alta and Vega Baja.

As part of its entry into Puerto Rico, CVS/pharmacy announced a donation of $10,000 to Instituto Psicopedagogico de PR, a Bayamon-based agency that provides specialized health, nutrition, education and essential care to adults and children in Puerto Rico with severe mental disabilties to improve their quality of life.

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Decision Resources: Ulcerative colitis drug market could double by 2018

BY Alaric DeArment

WALTHAM, Mass. The market for drugs to treat ulcerative colitis could almost double within less than 10 years, according to a report released Thursday.

Market research firm Decision Resources said the market for the drugs could rise from the $1.2 billion they had in sales in 2008 to $2.1 billion in 2018 in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan.

The primary drugs driving growth are expected to be Humira (adalimumab), by Abbott and Eisai, and Simponi (golimumab), by Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co. and Mitsubishi Tanabe. The two drugs, both monoclonal antibodies belonging to TNF-alpha inhibitor class, could prove to be effective alternatives to existing maintenance therapies, though their high prices could limit their overall uptake.

“However, the short-term nature of corticosteroid treatment and the waning efficacy observed with immunosupressants and TNF-alpha inhibitors highlight the shortcomings of marketed products for ulcerative colitis both in induction and maintenance regimens,” Decision Resources analyst Kathryn Benton said in a statement.

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