PHARMACY

Studies find HIV drug treatments may reduce infection risk among heterosexual couples

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Taking drugs for treating HIV might reduce the risk of infection among heterosexual couples, according to two new studies conducted in Africa.

One study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and conducted among 4,758 couples in Kenya and Uganda, found that when taken daily, Gilead’s Viread (tenofovir) reduced the rates of infection by at least 62% compared with placebo. Truvada (tenofovir and emtricitabine), another drug made by Gilead, reduced infection risk by 73%.

In the second study, 1,219 sexually active men and women in Botswana were given Truvada, which was found to cut their HIV infection risk by 62.6%.

The studies were designed to evaluate pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, whereby people take HIV drugs to prevent infection. But PrEP studies have had mixed results. In an earlier PrEP study of 2,000 women in Africa, Truvada did not appear to offer protection.

In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in November 2010, researchers evaluated Truvada PrEP in 2,470 gay and bisexual men and 29 transgender women who had sex with men in the United States, South Africa, Thailand, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru; that study found that PrEP reduced the risk of HIV infection by 44%.

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PHARMACY

Walgreens posts historic increase to quarterly dividend

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — The board of directors of Walgreens on Wednesday increased the quarterly dividend 28.6% — the largest quarterly dividend increase in the company’s 110-year history — to 22.5 cents per share from the previous rate of 17.5 cents per share.

The dividend is payable Sept. 12 to shareholders of record from Aug. 19. The dividend increase raises the annual rate from 70 cents per share to 90 cents per share.

The board also authorized a new $2 billion share repurchase program, which will expire Dec. 31, 2015.

"This is our third share repurchase program announced since October 2009. Since then, we have completed $3 billion in share repurchases and paid $1.1 billion in dividends to shareholders," stated Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson. "We have continued to deliver on our commitment to return cash to our shareholders consistent with our capital policy guidelines."

Walgreens has paid a dividend in 315 straight quarters (more than 78 years) and has now raised its dividend for 36 consecutive years. Since the beginning of fiscal year 2007, Walgreens’ annual dividend rate has increased from 31 cents per share to 90 cents per share, resulting in a compound annual growth rate of 23.8%.

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Foundation Care gets new office, warehouse space for pharmacy, distribution services

BY Alaric DeArment

ST. LOUIS — Retail pharmacy and specialty distributor Foundation Care has acquired a new office and warehouse space to accommodate new demand for its pharmacy and distribution services, the company said.

The 20,000-sq.-ft. space is adjacent to its Earth City, Mo., location, and the company said it would ensure adequate space to cater to its current and future pharmaceutical, biotech and device business partners.

“We are very excited about this investment and commitment to the Earth City area as it will allow for us to expand our capabilities and create new jobs,” Foundation Care CEO Dan Blakeley said.

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