PHARMACY

Merck names new EVP, chief medical officer

BY Alaric DeArment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. A medical school dean has been appointed to the executive board of Merck & Co., the drug maker announced Wednesday.

Merck has appointed Michael Rosenblatt as EVP and chief medical officer, a position in which he will lead the company’s Global Center for Scientific Affairs and report directly to president and CEO Richard Clark.

“Merck’s fundamental mission is ensuring the well-being of patients worldwide, and Dr. Rosenblatt’s appointment reinforces our steadfast commitment to always remain focused on this goal,” Clark said. “Dr. Rosenblatt’s achievements in academia, clinical medicine and private industry are exceptional. With his nearly three decades of invaluable experience, I am pleased to welcome Dr. Rosenblatt to Merck’s executive team.”

Rosenblatt has served as dean of the Tufts University School of Medicine since 2003. Before that, he was a George R. Minot professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of the bone and mineral metabolism research division at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, also serving as president of BIDMC from 1999 to 2001.

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Ranbaxy will not merge with Nippon Chemiphar

BY Alaric DeArment

GURGAON, India Indian generic drug maker Ranbaxy Labs has dissolved its joint venture with Japan’s Nippon Chemiphar. The dissolution gives Nippon Chemiphar full ownership of the venture, Nihon Pharmaceutical Industry Co.

The two companies had decided that it would serve their respective interests to develop their generic businesses independently, though Ranbaxy will continue to manufacture generic drugs for Nippon Chemiphar at its plants in India.

Japan is the world’s second largest pharmaceutical market and has been gradually opening up to generic drugs. In October, Sandoz launched Japan’s first biosimilar, a follow-on of Pfizer’s human growth hormone Genotropin (somatropin) already marketed in the United States, the European Union and Australia under the name Omnitrope.

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FDA approves generic treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first generic version of a drug used to treat dementia related to Alzheimer’s disease, the agency announced Tuesday.

The FDA approved Philadelphia-based Mutual Pharmaceutical’s donepezil hydrochloride orally disintegrating tablets in the 5-mg and 10-mg strengths, a generic version of Eisai’s Aricept. While generic versions of Aricept already are available, the newly approved generic is a version that dissolves on the tongue, designed for patients who have difficulty swallowing.

“Generics offer greater access to health care for all Americans,” FDA Office of Generic Drugs director Gary Buehler said. “Healthcare professionals and consumers can be assured that FDA-approved generic drugs have met the same rigorous standards as the brand-name drug and are the same as the branded in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics and intended use.”

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