PHARMACY

Sandoz acquires Fougera for $1.5 billion

BY Alaric DeArment

BASEL, Switzerland — Novartis’ generics division has acquired Fougera Pharmaceuticals, the company said Wednesday.

Sandoz announced the acquisition of Melville, N.Y.-based Fougera for $1.525 billion in cash. Fougera specializes in generic dermatology drugs, and Sandoz said the acquisition would make it the world’s largest company in the space.

"The addition of Fougera’s leading portfolio further strengthens Sandoz’s differentiated products strategy and improves our ability to help patients and customers around the world by providing easier access to high-quality, affordable dermatological medicines," Sandoz global head Jeff George said. "Fougera brings us valuable technical capabilities in the area of topical dermatological products, particularly in the development and manufacturing of semi-solid forms such as creams and ointments."

Fougera had sales of $429 million in 2011 and employs about 700 people at its two sites in New York, according to IMS Health.


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MinuteClinic to support Million Hearts with free blood-pressure checks in May

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark announced on Wednesday that it is supporting Million Hearts during National High Blood Pressure Education Month in May through a number of patient-focused initiatives.

Launched by the Department of Health and Human Services and led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Million Hearts is a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes in the United States over the next five years.

In support of Million Hearts, MinuteClinic will be offering free blood-pressure checks on Fridays in May: May 4, 11, 18 and 25.  No appointment is necessary and a MinuteClinic practitioner will discuss the results and make recommendations for keeping blood pressure under control, including staying on prescribed medication and taking it as directed.

"One in three adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure, increasing their risk for heart disease and stroke," said Andrew Sussman, president of MinuteClinic and SVP/associate chief medical officer at CVS Caremark. "We’re pleased to support Million Hearts by screening, educating and monitoring people who, for a variety of reasons, may have difficulty accessing preventive care, which is vital when it comes to heart health."

In addition, CVS/pharmacy will host a live Facebook chat with a CVS pharmacist and MinuteClinic nurse practitioner on May 16. The live online event will be free and open to the public and can be accessed by logging on to the CVS/pharmacy Facebook page. The discussion will focus on practical ways patients can remember to take their medication as directed and other issues facing those who are managing such chronic conditions as hypertension.

In an effort to attack the high costs of cardiovascular illnesses and to improve the treatment outcomes of cardiac patients, CVS Caremark has launched Pharmacy Advisor for chronic cardiovascular care, a pharmacy-based approach to managing one of the most prevalent and expensive chronic illnesses.  The program, which combines pharmacy benefit manager insights and solutions with pharmacist interventions, is designed to ensure that patients follow their medication regimens to achieve optimal health outcomes.  Pharmacy Advisor for chronic cardiovascular care initially will focus on improving medication adherence for four conditions: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure.

"Our support of Million Hearts underscores our belief that we can improve health outcomes through innovative ways of delivering care, including public-private partnerships," added Helena Foulkes, EVP and chief healthcare strategy and marketing officer for CVS Caremark. "At CVS Caremark, we are reinventing pharmacy for better health."


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FDA approves Pfizer, Protalix drug for Gaucher disease

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new treatment for a rare genetic disorder that affects 10,000 people worldwide.

Pfizer and Protalix BioTherapeutics announced Wednesday the approval of Elelyso (taliglucerase alfa), an enzyme-replacement therapy for the long-term treatment of Type 1 Gaucher disease.

The companies said the drug was the first FDA-approved plant cell-based ERT for Gaucher disease and the first approved plant cell-expressed drug derived from Carmiel, Israel-based Protalix’s ProCellEx manufacturing system, using genetically engineered carrot cells.

"The approval of Elelyso is important for patients who depend on available ERT to manage their Gaucher disease," Protalix president and CEO David Aviezer said. "At Protalix, our passion to develop Elelyso was strongly driven by our personal experience with family members and friends who have to live with this disease every day."


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