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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Joy and Eve Behar join heart disease awareness campaign

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK Bayer Consumer Care and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease on Wednesday partnered with Joy Behar, co-host of the morning program “The View,” and her daughter Eve Behar around an awareness campaign to alert women that being prepared for a possible heart attack can help save their lives.

Preparedness includes recognizing the sometimes-subtle warning signs and keeping aspirin on hand to help reduce damage to the heart. To that end, the Behars, the Bayer aspirin brand and WomenHeart will be offering a special-edition pill tote with a convenient key ring that makes it easy to always have aspirin on hand.

“I’ve experienced firsthand the devastating impact that heart disease can have on a family when left unchecked, and I’ve learned that, when a heart attack strikes, your first line of defense is having an aspirin on hand to help reduce damage to the heart,” Joy Behar said. “This is especially important for women, who are less likely than men to survive [a heart attack] and are more likely to have a second attack. Being prepared can offer women and their families that second chance to embrace a heart-healthy lifestyle.”

Individuals can obtain a pill tote by visiting IAmProHeart.com and making a $5 donation to WomenHeart. For each donation, Bayer will make a matching donation of $5 to WomenHeart, up to a maximum of $100,000. These donations will help fund educational programming and outreach that enable women with heart disease to share their experiences, lessons learned and personal stories of courage and survival with other women who have or are at risk for developing heart disease.

“It’s so important for women to know their risk for heart disease, and to talk to their doctor about ways to be better prepared and better their odds of surviving should a heart attack strike without warning,” stated Karol Watson, chair of the WomenHeart scientific advisory council and co-director of the program in preventative cardiology at UCLA.

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CADCA, CHPA kick off annual National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON The Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association on Wednesday joined forces to kick off their annual National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month to raise awareness of the dangers of youth prescription and over-the-counter medicine abuse.

This initiative, annually held in October, features a coordinated and concentrated effort to educate parents and youth of the potential dangers associated with prescription and OTC medicine abuse.

According to the 2009 Monitoring the Future Survey, considered the preeminent national study on teen substance abuse, 5% of teens have abused OTC cough medicines containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan to get high over the past year. When used correctly, DXM-containing medicines have a 50-year history of being safe and effective. But when abused in extreme excess, dextromethorphan can produce dangerous side effects, especially when combined with alcohol, illicit drugs or certain prescription drugs.

 

“While prescription and over-the-counter medicines are safe and necessary for many people, too many teens are abusing these drugs to get high,” stated Gen. Arthur Dean, CADCA chairman and CEO. “We hope that our efforts during National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month will raise awareness of the numbers of young people who currently abuse medicines, and spur a dialogue about prevention in communities across the country.”

 

 

“We know from 35 years of drug abuse prevention research that teen cough medicine abuse can be best addressed through education, and we are using the month of October to provide additional resources to communities interested in raising awareness among parents and teens about the dangers of cough medicine abuse,” added CHPA president Linda Suydam. “In addition, the leading makers of OTC cough medicines and our partners in prevention also support legislative initiatives to give parents further tools to address this type of abuse. These initiatives include a federal ban on sales of OTC cough medicines to teens under the age of 18 and a federal restriction against the sale of the raw, unfinished form of dextromethorphan to anyone other than an entity registered by the Food and Drug Administration.”

 

 

National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month coincides with the beginning of the school year and offers a platform for communities nationwide to become involved, as well as free and downloadable educational materials. As a part of this effort, community antidrug coalitions in nearly 40 locations throughout the country will be hosting town hall meetings in their communities throughout the month of October. These coalitions have access to the online toolkit — A Dose of Prevention: Stopping Cough Medicine Abuse Before It Starts — created by the CHPA and the CADCA. 

 

In addition, the CADCA has developed a toolkit to help substance abuse prevention leaders reduce prescription drug abuse, entitled "Rx Abuse Prevention Toolkit: From Awareness to Action." To view the materials or to learn more about all of CADCA and CHPA’s activities to help curb prescription and OTC cough medicine abuse, visit StopMedicineAbuse.org.

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