PHARMACY

FDA approves update to Takeda cancer drug label

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved changes to the labeling of a cancer drug made by Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the drug maker said.

Takeda and Millennium, the Japanese drug maker’s cancer-drug subsidiary, announced Tuesday that the FDA approved a supplemental new drug application for the injectable multiple myeloma drug Velcade (bortezomib) that updates its label to include additional data from a clinical study showing that the drug extended patients’ survival time.

The study, titled "VISTA," was a late-stage trial that included 682 patients.


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PHARMACY

Kerr Drug launches Thanksgiving food drive

BY Alaric DeArment

RALEIGH, N.C. — Kerr Drug is launching a drive to collect food to donate to needy families for Thanksgiving, the retail pharmacy chain said.

Through Nov. 15, the Kerr Cares for Kids Foundation is placing collection bins at the front of every Kerr Drug store where customers can place nonperishable food items, which the company will distribute to charitable organizations.

The drive follows a school supply drive in August that helped 90 organizations across North Carolina, such as Boys and Girls clubs, mission houses, women’s shelters and others.

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ABC posts 3% revenue gain with $80.2 billion in sales

BY Michael Johnsen

VALLEY FORGE, Pa. — AmerisourceBergen on Tuesday recorded revenues of $20.4 billion for fourth quarter 2011 ended Sept. 30, up 3.5%. Diluted earnings per share increased 8% to 54 cents. For the year, AmerisourceBergen posted $80.2 billion in revenue, up 2.9%.

"Solid results across all of our business units drove excellent performance in the September quarter and in our full fiscal year 2011, resulting in another strong year in a series of very strong years," AmerisourceBergen president and CEO Steven Collis said. "Outstanding performance in the two key growth drivers for our business — generic pharmaceuticals and specialty distribution and services — continues to drive gross margin expansion, which resulted in significant operating margin expansion for the sixth year in a row."

While specialty distribution sales in 2012 is expected to be moderate, AmerisourceBergen is very well-positioned for future specialty pharmaceutical launches, Collis told analysts Tuesday morning. "In September, we acquired IntrinsiQ, a leading provider of informatics solutions that help community oncologists make treatment decisions for their patients. IntrinsiQ is now part of Specialty Group’s ION Solutions, and the combination of IntrinsiQ software applications and ION Solutions’ existing oncology technology platform will enhance the company’s proprietary data offerings to both physicians and manufacturers," he said.

AmerisourceBergen also successfully combined its consulting and packaging businesses into one operating unit called AmerisourceBergen Consulting Services, which Collis believes will expand opportunities for both businesses. And two additional recent acquisitions included Premier Source, a small pharmaceutical consulting company, that expands AmerisourceBergen’s service offerings in a fast-growing areas of molecular diagnostics and emerging biotech. And TheraCom, which closed Tuesday, expands AmerisourceBergen’s offerings in reimbursement consulting on products that are covered by the pharmacy benefit. "These … additions to the consulting group and the addition of IntrinsiQ to the Specialty Group, a combined investment of $300 million, strengthen our positions in the markets where we are already a leader with services that clearly differentiate us from our peers, and strengthen our relationship with manufacturers and providers," Collis said.

Amerisource projected diluted earnings per share for fiscal year 2012 to be in the range of $2.74 to $2.84, an 8% to 12% increase over fiscal year 2011 earnings per share of $2.54 (those EPS were up 14.4% versus fiscal 2010).

"Key assumptions supporting the increased diluted earnings per share range for fiscal year 2012 are flat to modest revenue growth; operating margin growth in the high single-digit to low double-digit basis points range; and free cash flow in the range of $700 million to $800 million, which includes capital expenditures in the $150 million range. Subject to market conditions, we expect to spend approximately $400 million to repurchase our common shares in fiscal year 2012."

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