HEALTH

Genzyme again rejects Sanofi buyout offer

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. The board of directors of Genzyme again has rejected a buyout offer by French drug maker Sanofi-Aventis, Genzyme said Thursday.

The biotech company’s board unanimously turned down the hostile offer Sanofi made Monday to acquire Genzyme for $18.5 billion, or $69 per share, saying it was “opportunistic” and undervalued the company.

 

Specifically, Genzyme said Sanofi’s offer failed to recognize its late-stage development pipeline, which includes three drugs it plans to launch by the end of 2013, including alemtuzumab, a therapy for multiple sclerosis that the company said was “potentially transformative” and had potential to capture a significant share of the global MS market after its 2012 launch. The company also has pursued a plan to cut costs and improve manufacturing and other operations, which it said Sanofi’s deal did not take into account.

 

 

Genzyme focuses on therapies to treat such rare, genetic diseases as Fabry disease and Gaucher disease, but shortages of drugs used to treat those diseases –– such as Fabrazyme (agalsidase beta) and Cerezyme (imiglucerase) –– arose last year due to product contamination issues at Genzyme’s manufacturing plants.

 

 

If successful, Sanofi’s acquisition of Genzyme would be among the largest in the industry since the wave of high-priced buyouts last year in which Pfizer bought Wyeth, Merck bought Schering-Plough and Roche bought the remaining stock of Genentech that it didn’t already own. In all three cases, the main objective was to gain access to the acquired companies’ significant portfolios and pipelines of specialty drugs, particularly biologics.

 

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Walgreens collaborates with two groups to drive flu prevention, boost awareness

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. Underscoring its determination to be the nation’s premier source of flu immunization services, Walgreens on Thursday revealed it is working with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases to educate the public and health professionals about flu prevention resources. In addition, Walgreens has joined with Families Fighting Flu, a nonprofit organization of families and healthcare practitioners, to heighten flu awareness and encourage vaccinations for children and families.

 

In a flu season kickoff, NFID held its annual news conference in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Health experts at the event discussed immunizations as the best protection against flu viruses and offered new information from the medical community. They also highlighted the complementary role that Walgreens and other pharmacies now play for immunization services within the U.S. healthcare system.

 

 

“Working with NFID and Families Fighting Flu –– and through ongoing efforts with the medical community and government agencies –– we’ll continue to arm the public with the information they need to protect themselves,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy services. “With new [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recommendations, an all-in-one vaccine and unprecedented access to flu shots, our goal is to achieve higher immunization rates that can lead to a lower incidence of flu in the United States this season.”

 

 

Walgreens pharmacists, along with clinicians at its in-store Take Care Clinics, provided some 7 million vaccinations during the 2009-2010 flu season. This year, the company has set a much higher goal: to immunize 15 million Americans nationwide.

 

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Spherix’s Type 2 diabetes drug caused ‘significant drop’ in patients’ HbA1c levels

BY Alaric DeArment

BETHESDA, Md. Relatively healthy patients with Type 2 diabetes experienced a significant reduction in blood-sugar levels when taking an investigational treatment for Type 2 diabetes made by Spherix, the biotechnology company said Thursday.

 

Spherix announced results of a phase-3 trial of D-tagatose, which showed that the drug was more effective in American patients than in Indian patients.

 

 

“These are promising results, and we are pleased with the significant drop in HbA1c levels among patients treated with D-tagatose,” Spherix CEO Claire Kruger said. “As a monotherapy in a patient population with mild disease, this achievement is even more compelling.”

 

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