PHARMACY

Forest gets nod for COPD drug

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease made by Forest Labs, the agency said Tuesday.

The FDA announced the approval of Daliresp (roflumilast), a daily pill designed to decrease the frequency of flare-ups or worsening of symptoms from severe COPD. The agency said the drug did not have a brand name at the time of approval, though Forest already had chosen one at the time of this writing. The drug is for people with severe COPD to treat the symptoms of cough and excess mucus linked with bronchitis, but not primary emphysema. COPD comprises both diseases.

“COPD is a serious disease that gets worse over time,” FDA Office of Drug Evaluation II director Curtis Rosebraugh said. “New treatment options that reduce frequency of flare-ups or exacerbations are important in helping patients with COPD associated with chronic bronchitis and a history of exacerbations in managing this debilitating disease.”

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PHARMACY

CVS Caremark closer to completing acquisition of Universal American’s Part D business

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I., and RYE BROOK, N.Y. — In connection with the previously announced $1.25 billion acquisition of the Medicare Part D business of Universal American by CVS Caremark, both companies have announced that the Federal Trade Commission has granted early termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of second quarter 2011 and is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval of Universal American shareholders and state regulatory approvals.

The acquisition will more than double the size of CVS Caremark’s Medicare Part D program.

"With this step, we are much closer to furthering CVS Caremark’s position as a significant player in one of the nation’s fastest-growing segments of the pharmacy benefit management industry. Now that we have achieved this important milestone, we look forward to closing the deal in the next several months," stated Per Lofberg, president of Caremark Pharmacy Services. "We believe that bringing together these two businesses will strengthen our competitive offerings, enabling us to provide Medicare beneficiaries with expanded products and services and lower the cost of pharmacy care. Today’s approval puts us well on our way to accomplishing our goal."

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Merlo officially takes helm at CVS

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — As previously announced and widely reported, March 1 marks the day that Larry Merlo officially assumes the role of CEO of CVS Caremark. Merlo, who now serves as president and CEO, succeeds Tom Ryan, who remains nonexecutive chairman until his retirement at the company’s annual meeting of shareholders in May.

Upon Ryan’s retirement as chairman in May, the company intends to elect CVS Caremark board member David Dorman as the next nonexecutive chairman at the 2011 annual meeting. Dorman has been on the CVS Caremark board of directors since 2006.

"After more than 20 years, I know this organization, its values and our people’s passion for serving our customers," Merlo stated. "We are building on a strong foundation. CVS Caremark is the leader in providing integrated pharmacy health care. No one else has our combination of the largest chain of retail stores, a leading [pharmacy benefit manager], the fastest-growing retail health clinics and a strong track record of healthcare innovation."

"We are now focused on delivering the promise of our integrated pharmacy healthcare model. We will more fully leverage our unique combination of assets by maximizing the potential of our pharmacy benefit management business, sustaining our retail leadership, continuing innovation to create new healthcare solutions and more consistently delivering financial and operational excellence," Merlo added. "The entire CVS Caremark team is committed to delivering these results."

Merlo, a pharmacist by training with more than 30 years in pharmacy health, joined CVS/pharmacy in 1990 through the company’s acquisition of Peoples Drug. He has played a key role in the evolution of the company and has an impressive track record of integrating major acquisitions. Under Merlo’s leadership, CVS completed some of the most successful acquisitions in the history of retail pharmacy, including Longs Drug stores, Osco/Sav-on, Eckerd and Revco, and delivered significant organic growth in major markets across the country.

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