PHARMACY

Schering-Plough announces $1 billion in cuts, cites damaging study

BY Diana Alickaj

KENILWORTH, N.J. Schering-Plough announced more than $1 billion cut in spending costs, as well as plans to lay-off 10 percent of its workers and shut down manufacturing plants over the next two years.

The announcement came soon after the news that the American College of Cardiology in Chicago recommended that consumers halt use of the company’s cholesterol drugs Vytorin and Zetia. According to published reports, the two drugs had a combined sale of $5.1 billion last year, and were noted as one of the top selling cholesterol treatments in the world.

Things changed after the ACC published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine concluding that Vytorin did not have any medical advantage at reducing blockages that cause heart attacks over Zocor, a generic drug that is five times less expensive than Vytorin.

As a result, Schering-Plough lost 25 percent of its market value on Monday, and Merck, which co-markets Vytorin, lost 14 percent of its market value. Also, Health insurance agencies have now begun to recommend other drugs for cholesterol treatment.

According to published reports, an estimated 5,500 people will be part of a global layoff—including 8,000 employees in New Jersey and approximately 47,000 workers all over the world. The layoff and plant closing are expected to occur by 2010, while the remainder of the cuts will be completed by 2012.

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PHARMACY

Mylan twarted by court in Topamax case

BY Drew Buono

TITUSVILLE, N.J. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has upheld a ruling that prevents Mylan from marketing a generic version of Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical’s epilepsy drug Topamax, according to Reuters.

The decision was originally found in a District Court in New Jersey. Now, Mylan has to wait until the patent expires in September before launching a generic.

Topamax had sales in 2007 of over $1.8 billion.

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Independents, chains team up to spread the word about e-prescribing

BY Drew Buono

ALEXANDRIA, Va. On April 17, a new campaign will launch in thousands of pharmacies, aimed at informing patients about the benefits of e-prescribing and also encouraging them to tell their doctors about the technology.

Many independent pharmacies are joining the campaign, along with such big chains as CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Kerr and Wal-Mart, to promote the program through in-store signs and educational material. Signage that reads “e-prescriptions filled here” and “give your prescriptions a head start” will be found on pharmacy doors and at counters.

Patients interested in learning more about the program—such as which pharmacies or physicians in their area practice e-prescribing—will be directed to the campaign’s Web site, www.LearnAboutEprescriptions.com.

To prove the worth of e-prescribing, Walgreens and SureScripts, who is providing the network for the e-prescribing pharmacies, have released a survey showing the benefits of implementing e-prescribing in a pharmacy.

According to the findings of the Walgreens/SureScripts study, prescriptions filled at pharmacies increased by 11 percent once physicians began actively using e-prescribing and that the savings for pharmacy labor costs are $1.07 for every new prescription and $0.41 for every refill due to e-prescribing.

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