PHARMACY

Report: Novartis to boost biosimilars portfolio

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Novartis is making big investments in biosimilars, CEO Joe Jimenez said in an interview with Fortune magazine.

Jimenez told Fortune that the Swiss drug maker — which markets generics and biosimilars through its Sandoz division — was investing heavily in biosimilars and difficult-to-make generics for such conditions as cancer and respiratory disorders.

Sandoz makes biosimilars for markets worldwide, and also was the first to win approval from the Food and Drug Administration to market a generic version of Sanofi-Aventis’ blood thinner Lovenox (enoxaparin sodium); the FDA approved Lovenox as a pharmaceutical, but the drug’s chemical complexity means it has more in common with biotech drugs than with traditional pharmaceuticals.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which became law last year, contained a provision that created a regulatory approval pathway for biosimilars in the United States.

Jimenez also said that rather than focusing on creating blockbuster drugs for such conditions as hypertension, Novartis was focusing on creating drugs that disrupted disease pathways and could have multiple indications.

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PHARMACY

NACDS Foundation grants $320K in pharmacy school scholarships

BY Allison Cerra

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The charitable arm of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores awarded $320,000 in scholarships through its 2011 Pharmacy Partners Scholarship Program.

The NACDS Foundation said its scholarship program provides awards ranging from $1,000 to $20,000 to each pharmacy school’s scholarship fund to assist pharmacy students working to achieve their professional doctorate degree in pharmacy. This year, the NACDS Foundation provided scholarship assistance to each of the 124 accredited pharmacy schools and colleges in the nation.

The seven largest scholarships were awarded as follows:

  • $20,000 Apotex Corp. Wayne Roberts Memorial Scholarship awarded to Concordia University School of Pharmacy;

  • $12,500 Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Scholarship awarded to University of the Pacific Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences;

  • $10,000 Abbott Pharmaceutical Products Division Scholarship awarded to Husson University School of Pharmacy;

  • $10,000 NACDS Foundation Scholarship awarded to Creighton University Medical Center School of Pharmacy and Health Professions;

  • $7,500 NACDS Foundation Scholarship awarded to Long Island University Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences;

  • $7,500 NACDS Foundation Scholarship awarded to Harding University College of Pharmacy; and

  • $7,500 NACDS Foundation Scholarship awarded to College of Notre Dame of Maryland School of Pharmacy.

“Due to the overwhelming support of our benefactors, the NACDS Foundation has had the distinct honor of providing nearly $3 million in scholarships since the program’s inception in 1997,” said NACDS Foundation president Edith Rosato. “This staggering amount is quite a testament to the commitment to education on the part of the pharmacy and pharmaceutical industries. Their generosity reflects a passion for the next generation of pharmacy — pharmacy students.”

To see photos from the event, click here.

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NACDS chairman Loeffler emphasizes ‘new normal’ in inaugural remarks

BY Michael Johnsen

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Proactivity. That was the common theme bridging presentations between H-E-B’s Bob Loeffler, incoming chairman of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, and featured speaker Jeff Strong, Johnson & Johnson’s chief customer officer, during the closing business session at the 2011 NACDS Annual Meeting Tuesday morning.

That’s the focus of today’s NACDS, Loeffler said — proactively positioning the benefits that retail pharmacy can realize for overall health care on Capitol Hill. NACDS has made great strides to that end with its recent RxImpact Day, where more than 350 pharmacy advocates touted the benefits of pharmacy to more than 270 congressional officers. Such initiatives as these are invaluable, Loeffler said. It’s become the “new normal,” he said.

NACDS in the coming year will be looking to create that next level of normal, Loeffler added, with a committed focus on fostering a strong business community, creating a value proposition easily understood by D.C. bureaucrats and successfully communicating pharmacy’s inherent healthcare value to all stakeholders.

There’s a lot riding on creating that new normal, Loeffler noted. Educating policymakers around pharmacy’s value proposition still is paramount, especially as 1-in-5 Congress leaders were newly elected in 2010. “Now we need active diligence,” Loeffler said. Because if the pharmacy industry doesn’t continue to aggressively establish that value proposition often and always, opposing interests will have that window of opportunity to influence legislation that would run contrary to the business of retail pharmacy.

One of the greater challenges facing NACDS and the pharmacy industry today is translating that value proposition into the kind of budget speak Congress can understand. NACDS has studies that show how programs like medication therapy management can save between $10 and $14 for every $1 investment, but the trick will be in translating that message so that it resonates on Capitol Hill.

This will become even more critical in the coming months as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services begins accepting public comments around AMP reimbursements. NACDS expects a lively debate, Loeffler said. And the stakes are high — if the final AMP reimbursement ends up being less than it is today, many pharmacies in many states will go from razor-thin 2% pharmacy margins to close-to-zero margins, if not no margins at all.

Earlier in the morning, Strong made the case of proactive collaboration among suppliers and retailers. While many NACDS members have been heartened by the pending recovery to various degrees, most still are facing challenges, he said. That potentially has fostered a business climate that runs contrary to successful collaboration.

In the current business climate, retailers and suppliers alike have been focusing on cutting costs and eking out the most amount of profit with the least amount of investment. That kind of environment does not foster innovation, Strong said, and that needs to change. “I believe we’re spending too much time and energy” arm-wrestling each other for that ever-diminishing slice of earnings growth, he added. Going forward, retailers and suppliers need to partner on some out-of-the box thinking to the benefit of both partners.

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