PHARMACY

Novartis to pay $440 million for hepatitis C drug

BY Alaric DeArment

WATERTOWN, Mass. — Novartis plans to pay up to $440 million for rights to a drug for treating hepatitis C made by Enanta Pharmaceuticals, Enanta said.

Enanta said it had made a licensing agreement with the Swiss drug maker for the worldwide development, manufacturing and commercialization of the drug EDP-239, which works by inhibiting NS5A, a protein that is key to the virus’ replication.

"Novartis is a recognized leader in the field of HCV, and access to its global expertise combined with our shared vision for commercializing HCV therapies will support the successful development and commercialization of products targeting NS5A," Enanta president and CEO Jay Luly said.

Under the agreement, Novartis will pay Enanta $34 million upfront plus up to $406 million in milestone payments based on successful clinical, regulatory and commercial outcomes.


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GPhA applauds FDA’s action to address shortage of Doxil, methotrexate

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration’s action to address the ongoing shortage of certain cancer drugs has garnered praise from a group representing the manufacturers and distributors of generic pharmaceuticals.

The Generic Pharmaceutical Association said it applauded the FDA’s action to address the shortage of cancer drugs Doxil (doxorubicin hydrochloride liposome injection) and preservative-free methotrexate. GPhA also added that generic drug manufacturers are tirelessly working with regulators to provide needed supplies of the critical medicines.

“As FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg said this morning, patients and families waiting for these drugs will soon be able to get the medication they need thanks to the collaborative work of FDA, industry, and other stakeholders,” GPhA president and CEO Ralph Neas said. “GPhA is spearheading the development of the Accelerated Recovery Initiative — an unprecedented multi-stakeholder undertaking that would work with entities across the supply chain to enhance communication and strengthen our collective ability to prepare for potential shortages and make sure patients do not face situations where their medicines are not available.”


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Rep. Slaughter raises concerns about proposed ESI-Medco merger

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., has expressed concerns about the proposed merger between pharmacy benefit managers Express Scripts and Medco in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission.

The letter, dated Feb. 6, outlines how Slaughter represents a district that contains 34 independent pharmacies — which employ 364 full-time individuals — that fill more than two million prescriptions every year.

"The newly merged PBM would control one-third of the total 2011 PBM market share and 60% of the market share for mail-order drugs. This centralization raises the possibility of higher prices for prescription drugs and reduced choices for consumers," the letter stated. "My primary concern is the impact that the merger could have on community pharmacies and patients who rely on them not only for their medicine, but also for counseling and other specialized services and products."

Slaughter’s letter was praised by the Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! coalition, which is seeking to stop the merger.

"The concerns expressed by Rep. Slaughter and so many others are very real – and need to be considered," said former congresswoman Eva Clayton, chairwoman of the PCPAN. "This merger threatens to saddle patients and consumers with higher costs for lesser quality care, it needs to be stopped."


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