PHARMACY

PhRMA honors scientists that helped discover Januvia

BY Alaric DeArment

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — The main trade group representing branded drug makers gave an award to two Merck scientists who helped discover an oral medication for Type 2 diabetes.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America announced Thursday that it would give its Discoverers Award to Nancy Thornberry and Ann Weber, who led the discovery of Merck’s Januvia (sitagliptin), a once-daily pill for Type 2 diabetes designed to control glucose when combined with diet and exercise. PhRMA said that while women have won the Discoverers Award before, this marked the first time in the award’s 24-year history that it went to women alone.

“Because of the work of Ann and Nancy and their team, many diabetes patients around the world have a new medicine in their fight against this serious chronic disease,” PhRMA president and CEO John Castellani said. “Their work stands on its own but also represents the skill, vision and effort of research scientists throughout our industry who are dedicated to improving patient health.”

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PHARMACY

Credit Suisse: Rising gas prices may rev drug engine

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Drug stores may be best positioned to navigate any headwinds whipped up by rising fuel costs and may even benefit from them, a Credit Suisse analysis published Friday found.

“We expect the industry to fully pass through front-end inflation and see no material impact from higher gas prices,” wrote Credit Suisse research analyst Ed Kelly. “Consequently, we remain positive on the drug stores and view the group as one of the most attractive sectors in retail today. [The channel] provides insulation from inflationary headwinds, possesses a unique industry catalyst in the 2012 generic wave, [CVS Caremark and Walgreens] have company-specific drivers of upside, and valuations are still reasonable.”

As a channel, drug stores have been most successful in passing through product cost inflation, especially considering the weak relationship between price and volume at drug stores vs. supermarkets or overall retail, Kelly wrote. “In other words, drug stores historically have passed through inflation without a meaningful decline in volume. We attribute this success to the fact that the industry competes on convenience more than price, has a natural flow of pharmacy traffic and has a low average ticket.”

Kelly noted that Walgreens’ front-end comps have either been stable or actually accelerated during each of the last five spikes in gas prices, including the 2008 summer peak above $4 per gallon.

Credit Suisse is projecting a conservative 2.5% front-end same-store sales growth across both CVS and Walgreens, though comparable-store sales growth of between 3% and 5% front-end comps wouldn’t be out of the question, Kelly added.

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Takeda’s Edarbi enters market

BY Alaric DeArment

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Takeda Pharmaceutical has launched a new treatment for high blood pressure, the company said Friday.

Takeda announced the launch of Edarbi (azilsartan medoxomil), which the Food and Drug Administration approved on Feb. 25 as a once-daily pill for hypertension.

“Hypertension is a serious condition but typically does not have any symptoms, and many aren’t aware of the long-term impact hypertension has on cardiovascular health,” Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America executive medical director of medical and scientific affairs Paulos Berhanu said. “We are pleased to make available Edarbi, an important new treatment option for patients with hypertension and the healthcare professionals who treat them.”

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