PHARMACY

Merck: Expanding investigational drug pipeline caused by Schering-Plough merger

BY Alaric DeArment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. Merck has more than 20 investigational drugs in late-stage development, thanks to its merger with Schering-Plough, the drug maker said at a briefing Tuesday.

“This merger was about creating a new global healthcare leader, and we are well on our way,” chairman and CEO Richard Clark said. “Today’s Merck has excellent capabilities across pharmaceuticals, vaccines and biologics; a robust late-stage pipeline with the potential to sustain near- and long-term growth; a broader product portfolio and an expanded global footprint.”

Drugs in development include MK-0822 (odanacatib), for osteoporosis, SCH 503034 (boceprevir), for hepatitis C, the cancer drug MK-0646 (dalotuzumab) and the women’s fertility drug SCH 900962 (corifollitropin alfa).

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Pharmacy owns medication adherence issue

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT Of all the cells in the big organism known as health care, pharmacy is the right one to own the issue of medication adherence, as National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steve Anderson pledged it would when commenting on a study published in the journal Health Affairs.

(THE NEWS: NACDS hails journal article’s emphasis on pharmacy’s role in medication adherence. For the full story, click here)

A physician treats a patient and writes a prescription, while a nurse supplements the physician’s care, but the pharmacist has an ability to help monitor patients’ drug treatment after they return home from their appointments, and the pharmacist can make sure they take their drugs the way they’re supposed to, while also ensuring that the therapies physicians prescribe are appropriate.

As healthcare professionals, pharmacists can do this through collaboration with other providers and thus play a significant role in patient care. But as the authors of the study wrote, pharmacists are often underused, so it’s up to them and the organizations that represent them to ensure that patients, payers and other providers know the widening variety of roles they can fulfill.

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Study: Metformin may be used to treat other diseases

BY Alaric DeArment

CINCINNATI A diabetes drug widely available as a generic doesn’t work the same way experts have long thought it did, and that means it could find use in treating other diseases as well, researchers at the University of Cincinnati found.

Led by UC Metabolic Diseases Institute scientific director George Thomas, the researchers think the drug metformin could be used in patients with cancer, tuberous sclerosis and other conditions. The drug is used primarily to treat Type 2 diabetes and works by blocking production of sugar and increasing sensitivity to insulin.

Experts had long thought that the drug disabled the mammalian target of rapamycin, or mTOR complex by first deactivating tuberous sclerosis complex proteins through an enzyme called AMPK. But the UC team found that it disables mTOR using another enzyme, called RAG GTPase.

“We’ve poked a hole in dogma,” Thomas said. “Scientists can and should go back and ask about things they had crossed off their list.”

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