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Lucentis effective in treating RVO, studies find

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Patients receiving an investigational drug for internal swelling of the eye due to blocked veins experienced better results than those receiving placebo, results of two late-stage clinical trials show.

Biotech company Genentech announced results of the phase 3 trials of Lucentis (ranibizumab) in patients with the swelling, known medically as macular edema due to retinal vein occlusion, also known as RVO. The company presented results from both trials at the Retina Congress 2009 meeting in New York Sunday.

“RVO can lead to sudden loss of vision for which there are few treatment options,” Genentech EVP global development and chief medical officer Hal Barron said in a statement. “As early as seven days after their first injection, patients who received monthly injections of Lucentis had, on average, a statistically significant improvement in their vision that lasted through six months.”

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Amgen, GSK, Novartis win top drug industry award

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Biotechnology company Amgen won a 2009 Prix Galien Award for a drug used to treat a rare autoimmune bleeding disorder, the Prix Galien USA committee announced Thursday.

The Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based drug maker won the Prix Galien USA Best Biotechnology Product award for Nplate (romiplostim), the first treatment specifically developed for chronic immune thrombocytopenic purpura and the first peptibody protein approved by the Food and Drug Administration. ITP results from a low number of platelets, causing the blood to fail to clot as it should and resulting in purple bruises on the skin and mucous membranes.

British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline also won the Best Biotechnology Product award, for Promacta (eltrombopag), used to treat thrombocytopenia.

Novartis won the Best Pharmaceutical Product award for the cancer drug Gleevec (imatinib mesylate). French pharmacist Roland Mehl started the Prix Galien in 1970, and it was brought to the United States in 2007. The award is meant to recognize technical, scientific and clinical research achievements in the development of medicines and medical technologies.

“The 2009 Prix Galien USA winners represent what is possible when basic scientific research translates into drug development and discovery,” New York University School of Medicine professor and Prix Galien USA committee chairman Gerald Weissmann said in a statement. “We all benefit from the research that provides new treatments for the millions of cancer patients worldwide and for patients living with rare blood diseases.”

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Wegmans ranks high on J.D. Power and Associates 2009 National Pharmacy Study

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCHESTER, N.Y. The results of J.D. Power and Associates 2009 National Pharmacy Study were recently released, with Wegmans Pharmacy ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Supermarket Pharmacies,” Wegmans announced earlier this week.

More than 12,000 consumers participated in the web-based study that was conducted in May and June of this year. Seven key factors were measured:  pharmacists, non-pharmacist staff, convenience, medication availability and information, store layout and design, cost competitiveness and remote ordering convenience.

“This recognition is special because it shows just how much our employees care for our customers each and every day,” stated Wegmans CEO Danny Wegman.  “The relationships our pharmacy people build with our customers are truly meaningful.”

In addition to supermarket pharmacies, mass merchandisers and chain drug stores were ranked in separate categories. Wegmans’ score of 865 (out of a possible 1,000) was the highest among all pharmacies in the supermarket category.

Wegmans opened its first pharmacy at its Lyell Avenue store Rochester in 1972.  Today, the company operates pharmacies in all of its stores, with 400 pharmacists and 1,600 pharmacy technicians on staff.

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