PHARMACY

NIH funds study on patient comliance

BY Drew Buono

ATLANTA PharmaCentra, a marketing and services firm that provides customizable healthcare management programs for the pharmaceutical industry, the Rollins School of Public Health, and the Department of Ophthalmology at the School of Medicine at Emory University will conduct a study of new technology to increase patient adherence to prescribed treatment regimens.

The study, which be funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Eye Institute will test the effectiveness of the WellTouch system, which will provide glaucoma patients with telephone and print messages to increase treatment.

“Our goal is to identify the causes of patients’ noncompliance with glaucoma treatment and then to provide an individually tailored, low cost and effective intervention to improve compliance,” said Dr. Karen Glanz, principal investigator on the project and professor at the Rollins School of Public Health.

Almost 30 percent of all patients stop taking prescribed medication within the first three months of treatment. The problem for glaucoma patients is that if they stop taking the medication, they are at a high risk to become blind.

250 people will be taking part in the study over an 18-month period.

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PHARMACY

McKesson announces plans to acquire Oncology Therapeutics for $575 million

BY Adam Kraemer

SAN FRANCISCO McKesson Corp. announced plans Thursday to buy fellow cancer drug distributor Oncology Therapeutics network for $575 million, according to the Associated Press.

Based on IMS health data, McKesson expects annual sales of oncology drugs to double in the next four years to $60 billion. Oncology Therapeutics also distributes drugs for rheumatoid arthritis and hepatitis C, seeing about $3 billion in annual sales.

The acquisition would be McKesson’s second major purchase this year, the first being a $1.1 billion takeover of Per-Se Technologies, a health care administrator. Both purchases indicate an upswing for the company, which in January 2005 had to set aside more than $1 billion to resolve shareholder lawsuits revolving around a $12 billion acquisition of health-services software maker HBO & Co., which revealed only after the sale that it had been highly overvalued.

To help boost its stock price, the Associated Press reported, McKesson unveiled plans to spend an additional $1 billion in buying back its own shares. The company has already burned through $684 million of the $1 billion authorized in an earlier stock repurchase program announced in May.

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Pfizer hires two scientists to boost research operations

BY Drew Buono

NEW YORK Pfizer has hired two senior scientists and promoted a third to help rejuvenate its lackluster research operations.

Briggs Morrison, M.D., a senior vice president of research at Merck, Pfizer’s rival, will become chief of clinical development. Corey S. Goodman, M.D., who recently stepped down as chief executive of Renovis, a biotech company, will become the head of a new biotech center based in San Francisco. Martin Mackay, M.D., the former deputy head of research at Pfizer will become chief of global research and development.

The company is trying to establish a new drug pipeline after having a disappointing couple of years in its research and development departments, which saw very few products, hit the market, while Merck saw a boom in product development.

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