PHARMACY

Navarro marks first store opening in five years

BY Antoinette Alexander

MIAMI — Navarro Discount Pharmacy, the largest Hispanic-owned pharmacy chain in the United States and an MBF Healthcare portfolio company, has announced the opening of its 29th store in North Miami in the Arch Creek Shopping Center — marking its first new store in five years.

The company is in the midst of a 22-store expansion strategy and expects to open additional stores in the next three to six months in Homestead and Pembroke Pines.

More than 200 people were on hand for the grand opening, including City of North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre, the North Miami City Council and North Miami Chamber of Commerce executive director Ron Welsandt. A donation of $5,000 was made to the Florida International University Scholarship Fund, a local college.

The new 14,000-sq.-ft. store features Navarro’s new merchandise layout, new colors, enhanced signage and improved services for customers, such as a pediatric window for busy parents, free compounding pharmacy services, a free Diabetes Club for adults and children with diabetes, and free prescription delivery for all customers.

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PHARMACY

Pfizer stands by Chantix

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Pfizer defended a drug used for smoking cessation Monday following reports of a Canadian study that found it raised the risk of heart problems.

The 8,216-patient study of Chantix (varenicline), published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that of the 4,908 patients who received Chantix, 52 had an increased risk of serious heart problems, with similar risks appearing in 27-of-the-3,308 patients who took placebo.

Pfizer responded by pointing out that the authors of the study said the cardiovascular risk “estimates are imprecise owing to the low event rates.”

“Pfizer scientists and doctors continuously evaluate the benefits and risks of its medicines, including Chantix,” Pfizer VP medical affairs Gail Cawkwell said. “The currently available safety data on Chantix, including a pooled analysis of clinical data in 7,375 people trying to quit smoking, do not support an increased cardiovascular risk associated with Chantix.”

Still, the study’s findings won’t do the drug any favors. In 2008, the Federal Aviation Administration banned its use by pilots and air-traffic controllers after it was found to increase the risk of depression and suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and the Food and Drug Administration ordered that it carry a boxed warning, the strongest possible safety label, in 2009.

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Par to restructure branded business

BY Allison Cerra

WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J. — As part of a strategic assessment, generic drug maker Par Pharmaceutical is set to restructure its branded division.

The company said last week that its restructuring of Strativa Pharmaceuticals will result in a reduced workforce, prompting one-time noncash charges in the second quarter in addition to severance costs, although Par said the restructuring will generate expense savings in the $8 to $12 million range for the remainder of the year.

"To achieve our goal of optimizing Strativa’s potential, we found it necessary to reduce the number of sales representatives and focus on Megace ES and Nascobal at this time," Par chairman, president and CEO Patrick LePore said. "We remain fully committed to the branded business and believe it is a valuable platform for future growth."

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