PHARMACY

Mylan, Clinton seek to lower price of ARV drugs for HIV and AIDS

BY Alaric DeArment

PITTSBURGH A generic drug maker and a former U.S. president will collaborate to lower the price of a treatment for patients with drug-resistant HIV in developing countries.

Mylan announced Thursday an agreement with former president Bill Clinton to enable more effective and affordable treatments for patients using second-line antiretroviral therapies for HIV and AIDS in the developing world, making a second-line regimen of four ARV drugs available for less than $500 a year.

Mylan and subsidiary Matrix will make available four drugs – atazanavir, ritonavir, tenofovir and lamivudine – for once-daily treatment of patients who have developed resistance to standard, first-line ARVs. The four drugs will be available in three drugs, with tenofovir and lamivudine combined into a single pill. Matrix will begin selling the pills together in a single package for $425 a year starting in 2010 in countries whose governments are members of the Clinton Foundation’s Procurement Consortium across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

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PHARMACY

Merck, Schering-Plough settle Vytorin, Zetia suits

BY Alaric DeArment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough Corp. announced Wednesday that they had resolved class-action lawsuits over the purchase and use of two cholesterol drugs.

The companies announced they would pay $41.5 million in suits over the drugs Vytorin (ezetimibe and simvastatin) and Zetia (ezetimibe) to plaintiffs representing consumers, insurers and other groups.

“These agreements will allow the companies to avoid continuing defense costs and remain focused on discovering, developing and delivering novel medicines and vaccines,” Merck general counsel and EVP Bruce Kuhlik said in a statement.

The companies said the settlement resolves all the 140 suits that seek economic damages related to the purchase of Vytorin — which Merck and Schering-Plough market under a joint venture — and Zetia pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

The lawsuits also made allegations about the safety and efficacy of the drugs based on a clinical trial, though the companies said the settlement is not an admission of liability on that matter or an admission of misconduct or liability in connection with the marketing or sale of the drugs.

“We continue to believe that Vytorin and Zetia, in addition to a healthy diet, can provide important benefits for physicians in helping their patients with high cholesterol reach their cholesterol goals,” Schering-Plough EVP and general counsel Thomas Sabatino said.

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CVS Caremark mum about possible Aetna PBM purchase

BY Anna Mcgrath

CHICAGO CVS Caremark’s CFO Dave Rickard is keeping quiet on whether the corporation is interested in buying Aetna’s pharmacy benefit management business.

Acquiring Aetna’s PBM business would give CVS Caremark further expansion in the pharmacy benefits business, though the company is busy integrating retailer Longs Drug Stores, which it bought last October.

Despite being rumored as one of the potential buyers along with Medco Health Solutions, CVS Caremark has not disclosed whether the company will take advantage of the offer.

“We are in a position that if something that was very important strategically came along we could act on it. If that were available and the terms were right and the price was right then I think we’d have to look at it,” said Rickard.

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