PHARMACY

Senate approves $150 million for FDA in supplemental bill

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Senate approved a supplemental appropriations bill last week, giving the Food and Drug Administration an additional $150 million for this fiscal year. The bill was already approved by the House, H.R. 2642 allows the agency to use the money through Sept. 30, 2009.

The amount is a little more than half the $275 million the Senate originally approved in May, as suggested by FDA commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach in a letter to Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.

The bill, pending approval from President Bush, consists of:

  • $28 million for Centers for Drug Evaluation and Research and related field activities in the Office of Regulatory Affairs;
  • $12.7 million for Centers for Biologics Evaluation and Research and related ORA field activities;
  • $20.1 million for the Center for Devices and Radiological Health and related ORA field activities;
  • $3.4 million for the National Center for Toxicological Research;
  • $12.9 million for other activities, including the Office of the Commissioner; the Office of Scientific and Medical Programs; the Office of Policy, Planning and Preparedness; the Office of International and Special Programs; the Office of Operations; and central services for these offices; and
  • $66.8 million for the Center for Food Safety and $6.1 million for the Center for Veterinary Medicine and related ORA field activities.

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InstaClinic temporarily shuts down; in talks with potential partners

BY Drew Buono

ST. LOUIS Less than two years after opening, all four InstaClinic locations have closed, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Still, Schnuck Markets, which housed the clinics in its stores, and Patti Sohn, the nurse practitioner who launched them, say they might return.

Sohn described InstaClinic as “in transition” and “restructuring.” She said how many clinics open and their locations will “hinge on continued discussions with Schnucks and our other potential partners.” Sohn said, “Much depends on community need and the physical space available within the various Schnuck markets.”

Michael Juergensmeyer, Schnucks’ vice president of pharmacy, said Sohn, the chain and potential partners are in discussions. He said they’ve spoken with a potential partner interested in opening several clinics in Missouri and another with interest in opening clinics in Illinois.

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Merck, Schering-Plough end Claritin-Singulair combo partnership

BY Drew Buono

KENILWORTH and WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. Merck and Schering-Plough have withdrawn their application for a combined respiratory drug featuring Schering-Plough’s Claritin and Merck’s Singulair, according to Reuters. This ends an eight-year partnership between the two companies over the proposed drug.

In April, the Food and Drug Administration rejected the combination pill. Both drugs are allergy medications and the companies were hoping that the new combination pill would extend the lucrative franchises.

Claritin is now sold as an over-the-counter allergy treatment and generic versions are available, while asthma-and-allergy drug Singulair was Merck’s biggest-selling product last year with $4.3 billion in sales.

As a result of terminating the respiratory joint venture, Schering expects to receive $105 million from Merck, which Schering will recognize over the remaining three quarters of 2008.

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