PHARMACY

New York joins state lawsuits over Vioxx

BY Drew Buono

NEW YORK New York has become the seventh state to file a lawsuit against Merck over its controversial painkiller Vioxx, according to a Financial Times article on MSNBC.com.

The state is alleging that the company misrepresented dangers associated with the drug and are therefore looking to recover public funds spent on prescriptions. The lawsuit is the first to be filed under the new state law, which allows damages to be rewarded of up to three times the sum spent by a state, which according to New York is more than $100 million.

“Even as evidence was piling up showing just how dangerous this drug was, Merck put profits above all else and put thousands at risk by continuing to push Vioxx inappropriately on doctors and patients,” said Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Recently, the New Jersey Supreme Court denied a lawsuit brought about by insurance and healthcare companies against Merck concerning Vioxx.

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GSK flu vaccine facility in Quebec is nearly completed

BY Allison Cerra

QUEBEC CITY, Canada GlaxoSmithKline said that it is near completion of its Quebec City manufacturing facility, used to develop the company’s influenza vaccine.

After a two-year—and $199 million—investment to upgrade the manufacturing site, the location will increase the capacity of vaccine doses to 75 million per year, the company said. The expansion has also given way to providing this facility, and existing ones, new equipment and other innovative technologies to assure efficient production.

The company has also doubled the size of its vaccine workforce in Quebec City since January 2006.

“[This] announcement reinforces the key role that both Quebec and Canada play in GSK’s global vaccine business,” said Michel Baijot, vice president of Worldwide Strategic Alliances and Business Development, GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals, the company’s vaccine division. “Through this investment, Quebec and Canada will have an impact on global health by supporting countries in their influenza pandemic planning.”

According to GSK, the company supplies about 75% of the Canadian government’s seasonal flu vaccine purchases and will also provide Canada with a pandemic vaccine in the event of an influenza pandemic. 

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FDARA attempt to limit citizens petitions not likely to have much effect, expert claims

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON According to Richard Silver, senior vice president of Equity Research for Lehman Brothers, the Food and Drug Administration’s Revitalization Act, which included language intended to limit the use of citizen petitions to block approvals of generic drugs, will not stop their use by brand companies, the FDA reported.

“Citizen’s petitions … we do not think they’re going to go away.  The backlog continues to grow,” Silver said last week during the Generic Pharmaceutical Association’s Annual Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. “We don’t think the citizen’s reforms will change the behavior of brand companies significantly.”

Two versions of the legislation are currently pending before a conference committee.

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