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Pfizer, Protalix to develop Gaucher’s disease treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Pfizer and Protalix have entered an agreement potentially worth more than $100 million to develop a drug for treating an inherited disorder that occurs in one-in-20,000 live births, Pfizer announced.

The two companies will work to develop and commercialize taliglucerase alfa, a treatment for Gaucher’s disease that recently completed late-stage clinical trials. Protalix is planning to file a regulatory approval application with the Food and Drug Administration, which has given the drug orphan drug designation and fast-track approval status. The drug is made from genetically engineered carrot cells.

Gaucher’s is a lysosomal storage disorder in which amounts of the enzyme beta-glucosidase are not enough to break down a certain fat molecule, causing fat-engorged cells to amass around the body, mostly in the spleen, liver and bone marrow. Accumulation of the cells, called Gaucher cells, may cause enlargement of the spleen and liver, anemia, excessive bleeding and bruising, bone disease and other symptoms.

Under the agreement, Pfizer will receive exclusive worldwide licensing rights for the commercialization of the drug, while Protalix will retain exclusive commercialization rights in Israel. Pfizer will pay Protalix $60 million upfront, as well as milestone payments of up to $55 million. The two companies will share future and revenues and expenses, with Pfizer getting a 60% share and Protalix getting a 40% share.

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Emergen-C

BY Michael Johnsen

Alacer Corp. has entered the energy shot space under its own Emergen-C umbrella. But what’s significant is the fact that this energy shot isn’t merchandised alongside other shots, but alongside other supplements, suggesting that shots may gain traction with the consumer as a delivery platform.

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Walgreens reports 8.7% increase in November sales

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens reported a surge in monthly sales ended Nov. 30.

The drug store chain reported sales of $5.36 billion, an increase of 8.7% from $4.93 billion for the same month in 2008.  Sales in comparable stores (those open at least a year) increased 3.9%.

Meanwhile, Walgreens reported a 9.7% increase in pharmacy sales, though comparable pharmacy sales were negatively impacted by 2.4 percentage points due to generic drug introductions in the last 12 months. Pharmacy sales accounted for 65% percent of total sales for the month.

The drug store chain also reported that sales were “notably softer” this year’s Thanksgiving weekend.

Calendar year-to-date sales were $58.6 billion, an increase of 7.7% from $54.4 billion in 2008.

During the month of November, Walgreens opened 47 stores, including seven relocations, and acquired two stores. At Nov. 30, Walgreens operated 7,648 locations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. That includes 7,147 drug stores, 517 more than a year ago, including 60 stores acquired over the last 12 months.

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