PHARMACY

Genentech to take Avastin off market to quell competition with Lucentis

BY Drew Buono

SAN FRANCISCO Genentech will stop the availability of its cancer drug Avastin to certain pharmacies in an effort to hinder the usage of the drug in treating eye disease – which has cut into the sales of the company’s high-priced eye drug, Lucentis, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The company is trying to get the sale of its other eye disease drug Lucentis up, by stopping Avastin. Avastin is chemically similar and almost $2,000 less in price than Lucentis. Genentech is also trying to point out the fact that, Lucentis was approved specifically for use in the eyes and Avastin is not authorized for it.

Avastin will be available to hospital pharmacies and to doctors, but as of Nov. 30 compounding pharmacies will no longer have access to the drug. In the first six months of this year, Avastin had sales of $1.1 billion and Lucentis had sales of $420 million.

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Synta and GSK enter into $1.1 billion deal

BY Drew Buono

LONDON and LEXINGTON, Mass. Synta Pharmaceuticals and GlaxoSmithKline have agreed on a collaboration for the joint development and commercialization of STA-4783, a new drug entering phase-three clinical development for the treatment of metastatic melanoma.

Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will share responsibility for the development and commercialization of the drug in the United States, with GlaxoSmithKline having exclusive rights outside of the United States.  Synta can earn up to $1.1 billion as a result of this agreement in development, upfront payments, stock purchases and milestone payments.

“This agreement confirms GSK’s growing status as a world leader in the development of new oncology medicines for use in the treatment, prevention and supportive care of cancer patients.  It further strengthens our late stage oncology pipeline, which currently includes ten phase-three programs, and also demonstrates our commitment to identifying compounds that have the potential to deliver real benefit to patients,” said Moncef Slaoui, chairman of research and development at GSK.  “The data we have seen from the phase-two trials conducted by Synta have given us confidence in the potential of STA-4783 as a novel means of treating metastatic melanoma, a disease for which there is high unmet medical need.”

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CMS updates Medicare Part D Web site

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has updated its Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder, so that senior citizens and other beneficiaries can begin to review 2008 Part D drug plans.

The finder offers beneficiaries a chance to compare drug plans and health plans, view premiums, formularies and availability of coverage in the gap.  CMS wanted to make the finder as easy as possible to use and provide as much information as possible so that beneficiaries are ready before the open enrollment begins on Nov. 15.

The finder is at www.medicare.gov.

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