PHARMACY

Forest purchases rights to azimilide

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Drug maker Forest Labs has acquired worldwide rights to a drug developed by Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals for treating arrhythmia.

Forest said Tuesday that it had purchased the rights to azimilide from Blue Ash Therapeutics and had been assigned a license agreement between Blue Ash and Warner Chilcott. Forest will assume responsibility for all future development and commercialization, including costs. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We are pleased to have acquired the worldwide rights to azimilide,” Forest president and CEO Howard Solomon said. “Azimilide is a well-studied drug [that] has been reviewed in the past by the [Food and Drug Administration] as an anti-arrhythmic treatment for patients with a history of life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias and who have an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, a group for which there are currently no approved anti-arrhythmics.”

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Sigma-Tau OKed to manufacture primary ingredient in Oncaspar

BY Alaric DeArment

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has given approval to Sigma-Tau Pharmaceuticals to manufacture the main ingredient of a treatment for leukemia, the drug maker said.

Sigma-Tau was approved to manufacture L-asparaginase, the primary ingredient in the drug Oncaspar (pegaspargase). Sigma-Tau began seeking approval when the previous manufacturer ceased production. The drug is used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia, also known as ALL.

“To get a complex biologic medicine, such as this, exactly right takes a great deal of work for both the manufacturer and the FDA,” Sigma-Tau CEO Gregg Lapointe said. “We are pleased to announce that with this approval, there will be no interruption in either the production of the medicine or in the treatment of patients with ALL.”

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Getting on board

BY DSN STAFF

At the upcoming 2011 Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit in Las Vegas, Amber Pharmacy president Mike Agostino — recently appointed to the Board of Advisors of Specialty Pharmacy — will give a presentation focused on the specialty pharmacy marketplace and the importance of customers. Specialty Pharmacy had the chance to talk with Agostino about the contents of his presentation and his new role.

Specialty Pharmacy: What will be the topic of your presentation at Armada?

Mike Agostino: The title of my presentation is: “Specialty Pharmacy Services: Where Does the Customer Fit?”

SP: What will be the main focus of your presentation?

Agostino: The presentation focuses on how quickly the specialty pharmacy marketplace is changing and reminds attendees of how critically important our customers are. It includes an analysis of who the customer is — both traditional and nontraditional — and how customers impact our bottom line within a specialized pharmacy care delivery system. Ideas and suggestions on how to provide great customer service will be shared.

SP: If attendees could take one thing from it, what would you like that to be?

Agostino: Making certain your customer comes first and [how] providing great customer service directly impacts your return on investment.

SP: How are you transitioning into your new BOA roles at Amber Pharmacy, Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions and DSN Specialty Pharmacy?

Agostino: It is absolutely amazing. Amber Pharmacy’s long-standing presence within the transplant community offered the perfect platform for us to formalize our high standard of care and service within many other specialized conditions. So far, our niche and nimble approach to service has been well-received and is often stated as a ‘breath of fresh air’ within the provider and payer community. Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions has allowed us the opportunity to put two great companies together to form a specialized service with over 230 accessible points of care in our model. My transition into our newest company has allowed me to incorporate all of the best practices learned from my retail experience and how it can complement a high touch level of service. I am equally excited about participating in a healthy exchange of dialogue with my peers within our industry as the newest member of the BOA of Specialty Pharmacy.

SP: What are your plans once you start the new position?

Agostino: For my new position within the BOA of Specialty Pharmacy, I look forward to adding to an established dialogue that maintains the importance of our industry’s skill set within our healthcare delivery system. As our model continues to transform and as therapies continue to grow in complexity, I feel that as a stakeholder, I will be able to share challenges and ideas for solutions that will benefit the patient, payer, caregiver and provider.
 

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